Arc flash safety every business should consider

Nicholas Domich
PGE worker taking notes

Mitigating hazards and keeping employees safe is the heartbeat of any organization. With scores of motors boasting variable frequency drives, high temperature steam-driven processes and compressors pushing/creating air pressure, inadvertent energy release is always a big concern at any production facility.

Within the sphere of electricity, arc flash awareness is paramount. Arc flashes are categorized as a release of incident energy due to a failure of a protective device or a fault of some type. In both instances, that instantaneous moment can create a “flash” of energy at temperatures over 20,000 degrees.

Dust, dropping tools, accidental contact, and corrosion are amongst many other factors that can cause an arc flash hazard. If it has been determined that deenergizing a circuit is not feasible and the employee must work “hot”, the employer shall develop and enforce safety-related work practices to prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either direct or indirect electrical contacts.

Here are some action items to consider:

  1. Own the tailboard before every site walk/new day of work. Stay fresh on the happenings of the surrounding environment.
  2. Get on the SIDE of safety – Scan, Identify, Document, and Execute.
  3. Insure only qualified personnel performing work on or near energized parts.
  4. Develop a vigorous electrical maintenance schedule, in concert with equipment type and age.
  5. Complete/update arc flash study for the facility in question. Revisit this study every 5 years.
  6. Obtain/maintain Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  7. Post appropriate signage, highlighting risk levels and needed PPE.
  8. Educate and train your employees on approaching and working standards associated with energized work.
  9. Update single line diagrams and protective scheme documentation when load or generation is added to the electrical system.

To learn more about arc flash safety, review Understanding Arc Flash Manual by Occupational Safety and Health Organization and Codes and Standards by National Fire Protection Association.

Need help sculpting a game plan to bring your facility into arc flash awareness? We encourage you to reach out to your PG&E account rep for more information on this subject, or contact me: Nicholas Domich (Business Development Manager, PG&E Energy Consulting Services) at We look forward to serving you.