Electrical safety is a nebulous thing, but we define it as the set of systems designed to lower the risks associated with the electrical hazards of shock, arc flash and arc blast, to an acceptable level. In our day-to-day life this is handled for us, behind the scenes by the engineers and electrical workers designing, installing and testing the systems around us. The power system, from a users perspective is safe by design.
When interacting closely to the electrical systems around home and at work, we must start taking more precautions to ensure that we are not increasing the risk of injury. These risks are mitigated through a hierarchy of controls. These controls lower the risk to zero in a best case scenario, and to a level that an electrical worker deems acceptable otherwise.
Electrical Safety Program
Depending on your workplace, you may have an electrical safety program. The purpose of the electrical safety program is to educate the workers so they understand the hazards and risks they represent, and how to do field risk assessments. The electrical safety program will outline the various steps that have been taken to limit the risks to acceptable levels, and what the worker can do to ensure they work safe.
An electrical safety program will include training on the various labels that are throughout the facility, what the various hazards are, how to care for PPE, when PPE is required, what an energized work permit is, and why its important, and much more. We have created a free ebook outlining the steps needed to create an electrical safety program, if this is of interest to you click here.
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Arc Flash and Incident Energy
You will hear people use incident energy study and arc flash in the same breath, however they are two different things. The incident energy is only one of the potential causes of injury as a result of and arc flash event, the others include blindness, hearing loss, blunt force trauma, etc. The incident energy study only represents the potential heat energy associated with an arc flash event. An arc flash analysis however should holistically review a potential arc flash event and provide mitigation techniques that will limit all the results of the arc flash. The calculation of the incident energy is the most mature, however we have seen PPE recommendations evolve over the years as the sound and light hazards have become better understood.
One of the outputs of an arc flash analysis is the label. During orientation, or general electrical safety training, workers will be trained on reading the label and determine how to choose PPE for the task at hand. We develop arc flash analysis reports for our clients and if you would like to learn more you can learn more here – JMK Engineering Power System Analysis.