Despite many federal and state regulations aimed at improving the safety of utilities workers in the United States, there are several fatalities and many more injuries every year resulting from arc flash incidents on the job. Thankfully, advancements in worker safety technology have been helping organizations to reduce the occurrence and the risk of these incidents – but employee education, change management, and updated engineering standards are essential to successful implementation.
What Does an Arc Flash Electrical Safety Program Involve?
Companies that work with the highest risk of arc flashes – such as with power plants and transmission lines – have several strategies available to them for lowering the risk. These strategies include continually analyzing workplace hazards to verify that equipment and boundaries are appropriately labeled, enforcing PPE standards for employees, and performing routine checks for the functionality of all equipment. These companies can also maintain distances between employees and the source that could cause an arc flash – called an arc flash boundary – and use high-resistance grounding systems.
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Finally, comprehensive training for workers should be enforced to ensure all employees are well-equipped for and educated about arc flashes. After training, companies should still maintain responsibility for emphasizing workplace rules such as ensuring employees only perform tasks that they are trained to complete.
While these strategies sound simple on paper, executing them is difficult. These standards require organization, commitment, and the right technology. Many advancements in technology can make it easier for utilities companies to track and maintain equipment so that it performs well and is routinely analyzed for any damage or maintenance needs. Employee education and training can also be made more accessible and user-friendly, and workers can stay connected to ensure top-notch safety standards.
How Do I Start?
Before you can implement any of the measures, however, you need to ask a few questions:
- Is there a procedural gap or new regulation we need to address?
- Who will this affect, and what resources will be needed?
- How much will this cost? Can it be capitalized?
- When will these changes be implemented?
To answer these questions and take the next steps, watch our webinar “Building An Arc Flash Electrical Safety Program at Xcel Energy.”