Rittal Blog

Arc Flash Hazards and Energy Isolating Devices

March 27 2023 by Rittal North America LLC

Artist rendering of arc flash incident inside an industrial enclosureArc flash incidents are one of the most dangerous hazards in workplaces that deal with electricity. They occur when an electrical current jumps between conductors and can cause severe burns, fires, and explosions. These incidents can lead to significant injuries or even fatalities for workers who are exposed to them. Therefore, it is essential to take all necessary precautions to prevent such incidents from happening in the first place. One of the critical precautions that can be taken is the use of energy isolating devices.

Energy isolating devices are devices that are used to isolate or disconnect a machine or piece of equipment from its energy source which is essential in protecting workers from arc flash incidents. Energy isolating systems such as flange mount disconnect enclosures isolate high voltage equipment into one section of the enclosure system to prevent accidental exposure. These systems can allow access to the low voltage or control side of an enclosure as needed while preventing access to the electrically charged high voltage section. Additionally, using disconnect mechanisms helps prevent access to energized devices by forcing the power source to be disconnected before entry is made. This step is vital to separate the energy source from equipment to help ensure that the equipment is not accidentally turned on while work is being performed.

There are regulatory agencies that establish criteria for isolating energy sources to help minimize the risk of arc flash and working safely within these areas including required personal protective equipment (PPE). The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E standard and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are two important regulatory agencies that address electrical safety in the workplace, including the prevention of and protection from arc flash hazards.

NFPA 70E outlines key guidelines for risk assessment, arc flash hazard analysis, PPE requirements, and establishing an electrical safety program. OSHA helps to enforce these guidelines by ensuring NFPA 70E standards are met throughout the facility. 

Employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their workers, and this includes protecting them from arc flash incidents. This can be done by implementing a comprehensive electrical safety program that includes the use of energy isolating devices. It is also essential to train workers on the proper use of energy isolating devices and to provide them with the necessary PPE to protect them from any potential hazards. By using these devices, employers can help to ensure the safety of their workers and prevent accidents that can result in serious injuries or fatalities.

It is crucial to prioritize electrical safety in the workplace and take all necessary precautions to prevent such incidents from happening. 

Download our white paper, Arc Flash Prevention: What You Need to Know, to learn more about arc flash prevention, electrical regulatory agencies, personal protective equipment, and more. 

Categories: Industrial Automation