Forget The Blame Game When It Comes To Worker Safety

Arc flash hazards abound in an electrical workplace. Stop pointing fingers and become accountable.

By Joseph Weigel, Electrical Safety Works; Johan Roels, Loss Control Centre Belgium; and Charlie Palmgren, Innovative Interchange, for our sister publication Plant Services

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Serious workplace injuries and fatalities from electrical arc flash incidents have been occurring ever since electrical energy was first generated and distributed for productive applications. Arc flash accidents that result in a serious injury or fatality occur five to 10 times a day in the United States. Approximately once per day a worker involved in an electrical accident does not survive. Recently, in an effort to improve workplace safety, the industry has begun to focus on protecting workers from the arc-flash and arc-blast hazards that are present when they must perform work on energized electrical equipment.

One of the results of that focus has been the development and publication of NFPA 70E — Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. NFPA 70E is an industry consensus standard that defines the specific requirements for safely working on or around electrical equipment. OSHA recognizes the NFPA 70E standard as a written, published standard, available to the industry, and it cites the requirements of this standard for employers. NFPA 70E is updated every four years. It defines specific safe work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers to help protect them from these hazards (Figure 1). OSHA recognizes this important document and will use these requirements to determine compliance for employers regarding electrical workplace safety.

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