Prior to the 2012 version of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, NFPA 70E, there were minimal equipment labeling requirements to detail the hazards associated with shock and arc flash on electrical equipment. The only requirements for the labeling of equipment are where found in NFPA’s National Electric Code, NFPA 70, Article 110.16.
110.16 Arc-Flash Hazard Warning. Electrical equipment, such as switchboards, panelboards, industrial control panels, meter socket enclosures, and motor control centers, that are in other than swelling units, and are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized shall be field marked to warn qualified persons of potential electric arc flash hazards. The marking shall be located so as to be clearly visible to qualified persons before examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance of the equipment.
Informational Note No 1. NFPA 70E-2009, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, provides assistance
in determining severity of potential exposure, planning safe work practices, and selecting personal protective equipment.
To comply with the 2012 version of NFPA 70E, shock and arc flash labels are required to have the following information:
1. One of the followinga. Available incident energy and
corresponding working distance
b. Minimum arc rating of clothing
c. Required level of personal protective equipment (PPE)
d. Highest Hazard/Risk Category (HRC) for the equipment
2. Nominal system voltage
3. Arc flash boundary
To have a shock and arc flash hazard label that meets the requirements of NFPA 70E and the intent of NFPA 70, requires that the labeling requirements for ANSI Z535.4 be included as well.
The requirements for labeling as detailed in ANSI Z535.4 can be summarized as follows:
1. Identify the Hazard – What can go wrong (picture or graphic)2. Consequence – What will happen (text)
3. Seriousness – How bad will one get hurt (DANGER, WARNING, CAUTION)
4. Avoidance – What you can do to prevent the hazard (text)
The label below shows one label that meets all of the requirements of NFPA 70E and ANSI Z535.4; there are other formats that will meet those requirements.
Because NFPA 70E-2012 is a new standard, when will the new labels be required to be installed and on what equipment? As most are aware, NFPA 70E is not a standard that is enforceable by code. However, complying to the requirements of NFPA 70E is one method of complying with requirements for employee safety in the US. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes NFPA 70E and numerous other consensus standards to ensure that employers are providing a workplace that is free from known hazards.
Because it is not code, there is no “grandfather” clause. Therefore, adoption of the new requirements should proceed as quickly as possible. This requires that all employers who want to ensure that they are complying with OSHA requirements should start a program to transition all shock and arch flash hazard labels to meet the requirements detailed in NFPA 70E, NFPA 70 and ANSI Z535.4.
For this and other questions on electrical and product safety, please contact me via comments on the blog or through an e-mail.