How can Arc Flash Hazards be mitigated in your facility?
…defines minimum requirements for an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS). The primary purpose of this standard is to provide a management tool to reduce the risk of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. This Standard lays out the blueprint for improving health and safety performance in your organization while increasing productivity, financial performance and quality.
As part of this standard, ANSI defined a hierarchy of arc flash mitigation controls as demonstrated in the figure below.
Image source: IAEI Magazine May/June 2021 v93 #3
From the top and going toward the bottom of this figure, arc flash mitigations are classified in order of effectiveness in your facility. In this blog we will cover four mitigations that align with easiest to deploy, and thus least effective, to hardest to deploy (substitution and removal of hazards) as the most effective mitigations.
Perform an Over-Current Protective Device Coordination Study
For the purposes of improving your facility’s electrical systems reliability and arc flash protection, it is strongly recommend to consider adding an OCPD coordination study.
While an OCPD study is not generally included in an Arc Flash Hazard Assessment, performing this study in your facility will help your facility staff to scope and calculate the minor adjustments needed in your circuit breaker or other over-current protection devices to help lower incident energy levels. This means Arc Flash Hazards can be measurable reduced.
Add a Virtual Main Arc Flash System
Since dangerous levels of arc flash incident energy can transfer to crucial switch-gears and switchboards in your facility, it only makes sense to consider a custom-made virtual system that can “take” this incident energy and redirect it or lower the potential for the incident energy to arc.
There are two methods of achieving this:
- Maintenance Selector Switch: this can help lower the available arc flash incident energy and temporarily forfeits selective coordination. Omron Automation offers a good maintenance selector switch option here.
- Zone-selective Interlocking: for those facilities that choose not to opt for a maintenance selector switch, this option allows for arc flash energies to be permanently reduced with the addition of downstream branch circuit breakers in the switch-gear.
Schneider Electric provides this exact type of drop in virtual switch-gear.
Install Infrared Viewing Windows
Infrared viewing windows can allow your workers to observe and perform IR scans of the equipment without exposing them to the potential of an arc flash incident.
IR windows are round, glass-like view-ports that are transparent to infrared radiation, which can allow a thermographic camera to register potentially troublesome hot-spots on panels and machines without subjecting the panels or machines to unnecessary downtime. Installing these IR panels can allow for a form of safe, predictive maintenance, which will help to mitigate arc flash incidents before they are allowed to occur.
Online Temperature Monitoring and Remote Racking Systems
Just as how they sound: consider using remote, internet-driven and external control-panel based methods to remove the workers from the actual location of where arc-flash incidents can occur.
Online temperature monitoring offers 24/7 visibility into critical connection points without exposing a worker to arc flash incident energy potentials. Sensors can easily be installed during routine downtime and maintenance on high voltage equipment without risk or danger to your workers or equipment.
Remote racking systems are control panels placed in a facility outside of the immediate area near the circuit breaker(s). Actions can be performed using these control panels to rack and un-rack these circuit breakers without the operator needing to wear PPE.
Do you have an urgent need for an Arc Flash Hazard Assessment?
Lewis Bass will work with your team to craft a recurring arc flash inspection strategy that takes into account the unique facets of your business, its electrical layout, and associated equipment, to ensure your company’s compliance with OSHA regulations.
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