By Steve Hudgik
Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that between 1992 and 2002, electrical accidents in the workplace caused 3,378 deaths and an additional 46,598 non-fatal injuries. About 5% of all workplace deaths were related to electrical equipment. Arc flash is responsible for a significant fraction of total electrical deaths and injuries.
Arc flash is an explosion triggered by an electrical arc. Temperatures may reach as high as 35,000 degrees in 1/1000 of a second, vaporizing metal, causing fatal burns, and generating a blast wave that can collapse workers' lungs and rupture eardrums. Shrapnel, toxic gases, and intense UV rays can cause additional injuries. Arc flash accidents can cause a slowly, painful death, and even non-fatal injuries may require months or years of medical care and therapy. The following is a link to a video, posted on our arc flash blog, showing the effects of arc flash incidents:
An arc flash occurs when a conductive object gets too close to an exposed current source. Dropping tools, opening equipment doors, racking breakers, and even checking voltage can cause an arc flash unless proper safety precautions are taken. Warning labels that inform workers of potential hazards are a key part of arc flash prevention.
The National Electric Code Article 110.16 addresses arc flash protection, stating that "Switchboards, Powerboards, Control Panels and Motor Control Centers ... shall be field marked to warn of potential arc flash hazards...." In addition, proposed changes to NFPA 70E will require that arc flash labels must contain information specific to each piece of equipment, detailing the exact hazards.
Pre-printed arc flash labels must be modified in the field to include the required information. A better option is to print custom labels on-site using software to track and organize the information that should appear on each label. An outstanding label printer for this type of application is the DuraLabel PRO. The DuraLabel PRO is a flexible, industrial-grade label printer that can handle just about any labeling job in your facility.
Other label printer options are available. Please feel free to give us a call to discuss your complete labeling requirements. We'll then be able to recommend the best machine for your needs.
Arc Flash Tutorial by: Steve Hudgik and Daniel Nighting