Electrical Safety, Injuries and Illness

Arc Flash Protection: What Does OSHA Require?

By Ana Ellington, Legal Editor

A number of OSHA standards are cited in relation to arc flash hazards.

The NFPA 70E national consensus standard is a comprehensive standard that contains detailed information on how to protect workers from arc flashes. Employers must consider and adopt NFPA 70E when employees work on an electrical system.

NFPA 70E is not an OSHA requirement. But that does not matter. OSHA requires employers to protect employees from electrical hazards, including arc flash. OSHA issues citations based on the requirements of NFPA 70E through existing Agency regulations.

The most common OSHA standards cited for arc flash include:

  • 29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1)—Requires employers to perform a PPE hazard assessment to determine necessary PPE.
  • 29 CFR 1910.332(b)(1)—Practices addressed in this standard. Employees must be trained in and familiar with the safety-related work practices required by 1910.331 through 1910.335 that pertain to their respective job assignments.
  • 29 CFR 1910.333(b)(2)(iv)(B)—A qualified person must use test equipment to test the circuit elements and electrical parts of equipment to which employees will be exposed and must verify that the circuit elements and equipment parts are de-energized.
  • 29 CFR 1910.335(a)(1)(i)—Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards must be provided with, and must use, electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed.
  • 29 CFR 1910.335(a)(1)(iv)—Requires employees to wear nonconductive head protection wherever there is a danger of head injury from electric shock or burns due to contact with exposed energized parts.

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  • 29 CFR 1910.335(a)(1)(v)—Employees must wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is the danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from electrical explosion.
  • 29 CFR 1910.335(a)(2)—Employees must use insulated tools or handling equipment if the tools or handling equipment might make contact with such conductors or circuit parts.
  • 29 CFR 1910.269(l)(6)(iii)—Requires employers to ensure that each employee working at electric power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs does not wear clothing that could increase the extent of injury to such a hazard.
  • 29 CFR 1926.28(a)—The employer must require that employees wear appropriate PPE during construction work.

Safe Workplace

The most effective and foolproof way to eliminate the risk of electrical shock or arc flash is to simply de-energize the equipment. But, in some cases, turning off the power is just not possible.

Understanding arc flash and its potential hazards, calculating risk, knowing the importance of labeling, and the proper use of PPE can maintain the effective use of live electrical equipment and parts.

Essentially, OSHA and NFPA requirements should be followed to develop and implement an effective electrical safety program—and ultimately save lives.


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