One very common “Myth” in dealing with Maintenance and Safety Managers across the country, regarding arc flash hazard analysis, is the attempt to rely on the basic PPE matrix chart in the NFPA 70e publication. First, we need to understand that the intent of the chart, as stated clearly in the text, is that it to be used in lieu off and only when an Arc Flash Hazard Analysis (Arc Flash Risk Assessment) has not been made to determine the incident energy at the point in question. In other words, Use the matrix only if you “Must” work in a panel before a proper arc flash analysis has been conducted. Equipment owners and employers must provide the information necessary to determine the correct PPE or personal protection equipment that a worker must wear or use.
This miss- conception, while dangerous and life threatening as it may be, is still argued almost every day between those safety and maintenance people who understand the regulations, and those likewise who just browse thru the publication, bouncing from section to section, looking for a “way out” of doing what is ultimately “Right” to protect the lives of those who are charged with working on or around those potent electrical panels.
I have had the opportunity to stand face to face with many Safety and Maintenance Managers throughout the nation and around the world, who from many different industries, have not been afforded the time to learn, nor, the time to seek updates on these types of regulations. In almost every case, where our meeting and conversation starts with a visit and citation from the friendly O.S.H.A. accident investigator, or inspector, or, by the requirements passed down through some “Corporate” mandated memo, these managers need help to decipher the miles of “Safety Ease” piled into OSHA 1910 or NFPA 70e. Relying on a solid consultant to give the proper advice is key.
Dave Carpenter BSEE
Arc Flash Engineering