Arc Flash & Electrical Safety News

Blog Author Steve Hudgik

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Compliance Takes More Than A Label

An article by Chet Davis, originally published in the November 2005 issue of Plant Engineering Magazine, was republished by Facility Safety Management magazine this month (January 2008). It is called, Compliance Takes More Than A Label. Over two years have passed and the message is still relevant. A key point made by the article is:

"The current arc-flash phenomenon appears to be operating on fear rather than principle. The fear is massive lawsuits and OSHA fines if an accident does occur rather than a sound reasoning as to why a safety culture makes good business sense in daily operations. While it may have taken some fear in the initial movement to motivate companies toward implementing safety standards, if the safety aspect of arcflash is limited to labeling and PPE requirements, the inclination will soon wear off."

From what I've observed, the "inclination" in many cases has not yet worn off. Putting the safety of people first should always be the goal. Safety does not end with applying a warning label. Proper labeling is a critical, and important first step, but establishing an ingrained safety culture is key.

For example, many of the arc flash labels I've seen just list the arc flash boundaries... and they run it all together in a paragraph of text in the center of the label. The information is inadequate and the presentation is unreadable. For a label to be effective it must have complete information, presented in an easy-to-read format. In addition to boundary information an arc flash label should clearly show the required PPE.

The Graphic Product's Arc Flash Labeling Best Practices points out another piece of important information that should be on the label:

"Although labeling is important, the best way to prevent electrical injuries is to de-energize the equipment and use LOTO. Identifying the available upstream lockable point on the label helps enforce LOTO. By Identifying the first disconnect feeding the equipment, LOTO is reinforced and workers are reminded to use LOTO procedures."

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