EN Engineering’s team of professional electric engineering consultants now offers arc flash assessment and related services to help utilities comply with new OSHA regulations. The revised U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 1910.269 regulation mandates new rules for electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution companies.
EN Engineering's licensed, professional electrical engineering consultants have experience performing similar assessments and compliance implementation for NFPA 70E standard—a fire protection standard for electrical safety in the workplace. In addition, they can advise utilities not only on how to meet the regulatory requirements, but also how to identify opportunities to adjust operations to mitigate arc flash incidents. EN Engineering can also perform labeling services and training programs for utility employees affected by the new regulation.
The revised regulation required that companies make a reasonable estimate of the incident heat energy from an arc flash to which the employee would be exposed by Jan. 1, 2015. It also stipulates that beginning April 1, 2015, electric utility companies must ensure that employees with exposure to electric-arc hazards wear protective clothing and use other protective equipment. Arc flash temperatures can reach as high as 35,000°F at the arc terminal. This heat, combined with the power of an arc blast can cause considerable injury, and even death, to employees. OSHA anticipates that these regulations will prevent approximately 20 additional fatalities and 118 additional serious injuries annually.
“In order to determine the arc flash incident energy levels throughout the electrical distribution system, electric companies must perform an assessment of these levels and then institute the necessary safe work practices to protect employees from the effects of arc flash incidents,” stated Keith Smith, Practice Area Leader, Electrical & Instrumentation. The revised OSHA regulation gives the electric utilities the option to perform the assessment internally or to outsource the responsibility.
According to Smith, “Industrial clients for whom EN Engineering has completed similar arc flash incident assessments have benefitted greatly from the assessment process. EN Engineering not only assisted in bringing the clients into compliance, but we also identified areas where arc flash incidents could be mitigated, improving the clients’ electrical system reliability, and creating a safer work environment for their employees.”