Do you have the right Arc Flash Vendor?
There are a lot of companies out there that provide Arc Flash assessments and services. Anyone who has started to do the research will find a lot of variation in price, approach, and deliverables. To perform a true Arc Flash study compliant with the NFPA 70E, the study must follow IEEE 1584 regulations.
Here are some guidelines to take you through how to choose an Arc Flash vendor.
A compliant Arc Flash study must be completed and signed off on by a Professional Engineer(PE) licensed by a state board. In many US states, the firm performing the study must also be licensed. Most insurance companies and permitting offices also require a PE to lead the study if the results are incorporated in legal documents or applications.
A licensed PE will complete an Arc Flash study and create equipment labels based on Incident Energy calculations. Vendors who are not licensed engineers sometimes take a shortcut with the PPE Category Method. It is illegal and sanctionable by OSHA to use the PPE Category method as the basis for labels.
Licensed electrical safety experts perform a comprehensive Arc Flash study that collects data from every system point and uses electrical engineering software to model the entire facility.
NOTE: An Arc Flash study that follows IEEE 1584 regulations collects data from all equipment with at least 2000 amps of available fault current or greater. This could include 30 AMP circuits rated at 480 volts or up to 60 AMP circuits at 480 volts. The studies should track all the way down through your system to meet the strict standards of the IEEE 1584- collecting data from mid-level distribution switch gear, all the way down to panel level, and the distributed smaller loads.
FIRST, this real-time data should be run through specialized engineering software.
Which THEN provides the Incident energy calculations, which give a specific rating in calories per centimeter squared for every point in the electrical system where PPE is required.
NEXT, equipment labels are placed on the panels to dictate the proper PPE. Incident energy labels comply with the NFPA 70E and must include:
- Date of the calculation
- Incident energy level
- Arc flash boundary
- Voltage class
LASTLY, reports and schematics are generated from the study and will correspond to the calculations. The reports can be referenced for future updates, changes to the facility, or every five years when compliance must be renewed.
Most often, all the data remains in the hands of the company that performed the study because maintaining the study requires special electrical engineering software and an engineer on staff to handle it, though some companies choose to maintain the data independently. A FINAL consideration when determining how to choose an Arc Flash vendor is whether or not a company specializes in electrical safety or if they are a more general electrical products and services firm. We’ll unpack the differences between the two in our next blog.
If you have any questions about how an EPSCO Arc Flash study can benefit your facility, reach
out to one of our electrical safety pros HERE.
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