Arc Flash Analysis: Reduce Risk and Ensure Safety

By Bibek Karki, PE
Engineering Manager

What is an Arc Flash Hazard Analysis, and why do you need one?
Arc flash incidents are one of the most common causes of fatalities, power interruptions, and equipment damage when working with electrical equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) describes an arc flash as a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another or the ground. Calculating arc flash hazards is vital to mitigate risks within your facility, along with providing proper training. Arc flash hazards are determined by calculating the incident energy; incident energy depends primarily on the available fault current, the time taken to clear the fault, and the working distance. With the advancement of technology, we can calculate incident energy and arc flash hazards more accurately, allowing us to implement the best mitigation strategies to reduce risk.

Arc flash analysis process:
Incident energy calculations can be performed using modeling software, such as SKM, ETAP, or Easypower. Most of these software platforms use the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE 1584-2018) and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA 70E-2021) standards for modeling power systems and calculating arc flash hazards. NFPA 70E requires that electrical equipment have a warning label if it poses an arc flash risk.

Arc flash analysis is typically performed in the following steps:

  • Collect fault current and overcurrent protective device data from the utility source.
  • Gather overcurrent protective device settings from the circuit breakers, relays, fuses, etc., and impedance data from the conductors, transformers, generators, and motors. The customer can provide this, or our team can perform this in the field.
  • Create an impedance diagram and powers system model using software like SKM or ETAP to run an arc flash simulation analysis.
  • Create a comprehensive report with all the data and subsequent results in tabular form. This report also contains the executive summary with all report descriptions, assumptions, remarks, findings, and recommendations. Possible arc flash hazard mitigation strategies and solutions are included in this report as well.
  • The deliverable to the customer includes the digital report, hard copy report upon request, and arc flash hazard labels installed by our team.

Ensure worker safety.
The arc flash analysis is a critical document that should be incorporated into the safety program at a facility. It consists of an impedance diagram and a snapshot of the facility’s power system. Impedance and single-line diagrams are critical in creating a maintenance plan, lock-out and tag-out (LOTO), and Sequence of Operation (SOO) plans. Arc flash labels quickly identify arc flash and shock risks and specify the required PPE while interacting with this equipment. They can be integral to safety training, safe work permits, and the company’s safety culture.

Only a qualified and experienced team should perform arc flash analysis.
IPS’ power management division (PMD) has a team of highly qualified electrical engineers with multiple years of experience performing arc flash hazard analysis. They have conducted several studies for new construction where the customer provides data . This team of engineers can also go on-site and safely gathers data without affecting equipment operation or reliability. They utilize SKM, ETAP, and Easypower software to create comprehensive reports that are peer-reviewed by IPS’s team of professional engineers. IPS has performed power system studies in critical system facilities, including data centers, airports, water treatment plants, wind farms, solar farms, high rise buildings, power plants, refineries, paper mills, and lumber plants throughout North America. IPS’s goal is to perform arc flash studies with accurate data, comprehensive reports, and fewer assumptions that result in arc mitigation strategies that reduce risk in your facility.

If you need additional information or assistance, please contact us at: [email protected]

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