This paper describes about how to not choose arc flash clothing on the basis of vendor suggestions or by simply picking up the most severe rating
ARC FLASH CLOTHING IN INDIAN SCENARIO
By E.Anandan ARC ELECTRICAL SAFETY CONSULTING
Arc flash is one of the three hazards of working with electrical energy. Other two hazards are electric shock and fire due electrical energy.
In India every year more than 9000 persons die due to electricity. No accurate figures are available no of accidents / fatality due to electricity. However, Major industries have one or more arc flash incidents losing employees as well as crores of rupees of property. Unlike in west, in India, Arc flash hazard analysis is not a mandatory requirement and only very few industries take up this as a move towards global safety standards.Eventhough it is a mandatory requirement in India to protect workers against possible harm, arc flash hazard is not spelt clearly even in recently drafted CEA safety regulations 2010. Recent trend in Indian Industries is to purchase ARC flash clothing without resorting to a fullfledged Arc flash hazard analysis due to various reasons including cost of analysis Companies buy either a basic 8 cal suit or a 40 cal suit and insist on workers using them.
PPEs purchase and use shall be only as per the results obtained in Arc flash hazard assessment and as per the labels generated for specific equipments/ panels. Arc flash hazard analysis generates two types of warning labels which have to be affixed on panels. These labels provide information on what type of PPEs have to be worn.
Using arc flash suits without proper analysis is similar to taking medication without consulting a doctor If a lower rated suit is used where higher energy is present it will not protect the person and the person may die. There are cases where the arc flash energy level exceeds 40 cal/ cm2 where live working is prohibited. Only work recommended is when the switch gear is de energized as shown in left side image above Typical locations are HT breakers, incomer breakers in PCC panels where energy handled is more. Hence in these locations, using 40 cal arc suit without analysis is strictly not advisable. CONCLUSION There is no substitute to a PPE programme without performing ARC FLASH HAZARD ANALYSIS.PPEs have to be purchased based on the analysis output only.
Reference: 1. NFPA 70 E – Standard for electrical safety in work place 2012 2. CEA 2010 - Central Electricity Authority Safety Regulations 2010