Arc Week Episode 3: Arc Infested Work Zones – Your Lifeguard is NFPA 70E

Tyndale presents Arc Week: a unique, week-long educational look at the world of arc flash hazards through the lens of Shark Week. Join Scott Margolin – our dedicated technical expert by day and passionate shark enthusiast in his free time – for engaging, memorable parallels that bring important lessons about risk protection and PPE to life. Follow along at TyndaleUSA.com/blog.

In his free time, Vice President of Technical Scott Margolin has spent 30 years diving with some of the world’s most dangerous sharks. But even after all of those successful encounters, Scott would never enter the waters without taking all relevant safety measures and working with the best dive guides available for each specific situation.

Similarly, if you work on commercial and industrial electrical equipment, step beyond the arc flash boundary and you’re officially “swimming” with arcs. Don’t dive in without a trained and experienced dive master as your guide. That’s where NFPA® 70E comes in – it’s your lifeguard in arc-infested work zones. Find out who 70E applies to, what it says, and how it keeps you safe:

NFPA® 70E first addressed arc flash around 20 years ago, and continues to be revised every few years.

What are the three main goals of NFPA® 70E?

  • The first goal of NFPA® 70E is to work in an electrically safe work condition, de-energized whenever possible.
  • When it’s not possible to work de-energized, the next goal is to ensure you’re wearing the appropriate PPE – arc-rated (AR) clothing and other PPE like voltage rated rubber gloves, leather keepers, hard hat, face shield, etc.
  • The third goal is to ensure the AR clothing you wear has a higher arc rating than the potential incident energy of the system you’re working on. As we saw in episode 2, the greater the arc rating, the greater the insulation – and the more protection from burn injury.

What else does NFPA® 70E say?

We may not always know what the incident energy is or have access to the data necessary to calculate it.

  • When this is the case, NFPA® 70E provides tables – broad parameters to estimate the arc energy for you, cross-referencing the task, equipment, and other variables to efficiently guide you to the appropriate AR clothing level.
  • There are four levels of AR clothing (known as PPE Category or CAT, formerly known as Hazard Risk Category or HRC): CAT 1 clothing protects you in an arc up to 4 calories, CAT 2 clothing protects you up to 8 calories, CAT 3 clothing protects you up to 25 calories, and CAT 4 clothing protects you in an arc up to 40 calories.
  • AR clothing by Tyndale features external labels with the garment’s arc rating and corresponding PPE Category – keeping protective levels top of mind and making it easy to conduct spot checks.

Do you have a flash fire – rather than an arc flash – hazard? NFPA® 2112 and NFPA® 2113 are your lifeguards. NFPA® 2112 specifies performance requirements of the FR fabrics, while NFPA® 2113 is a companion standard to NFPA® 2112, and covers selection, care, use, and maintenance requirements for garments. Learn more about these standards and how they work together to keep you safe in the event of a flash fire.

Sharks and electric arcs can both be terrifying forces of nature, and in both cases, specialized expertise is often the difference between safety and catastrophe. When you’re working in arc-infested work zones in commercial and industrial electric, look to NFPA 70E for your guide to working safely.

Do you need help navigating the dangerous waters of the arc flash hazard?

Tune in tomorrow for the premiere of Arc Week Episode 4: When Arcs Attack, and find out how to defend yourself from an arc.

 

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