Arc Flash Label Requirements
(A new NFPA 70E 2015 update will be added shortly.)
A section was added to the 2012 edition of NFPA 70E that raises the level of detail required on certain arc flash hazard labels. Section, 130.5(C) requires:
Electrical equipment such as switchboards, panelboards, industrial control panels, meter socket enclosures, and motor control centers that are in other than dwelling units and are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing or maintenance while energized, shall be field marked with a safety label containing all the following information:
- At least one of the following:
- Available incident energy and the corresponding working distance
- Minimum arc rating of clothing
- Required level of PPE
- Highest Hazard/Risk category (HRC) for the equipment
- Nominal system voltage
- Arc flash boundary
NFPA 70E 2012 provides an exception to the above so that labels that were applied prior to September 30, 2011 do not need to be replaced. These older safety labels are acceptable, if they contain the available incident energy or required level of PPE.
In addition to the above, many facilities are labeling bus ducts and other electrical equipment. Any electrical equipment that might be accessed while hot poses a risk of arc flash, and should be labeled to make workers aware of the hazard.
Technically, equipment installed prior to 2002 only needs to be labeled if it has been modified or upgraded in any way since 2002. An arc flash survey done by the NEC in 2007 showed that only about 14% of equipment installed prior to 2002 had arc flash labels. This is not good news, both from the employee safety and liability standpoints. Without regard to the age of the equipment, arc flash labels are the first line of defense in preventing arc flash injuries.
Here are the components of an arc flash label:
- SAFETY ALERT SYMBOL: The triangle-exclamation point symbol
- THE SIGNAL WORD: The word used at the top of the label such as danger, warning or caution,
- THE SIGNAL WORD PANEL: The panel in which the signal word appears
- THE SAFETY MESSAGE: The text describing the hazard
- THE MESSAGE PANEL: The white panel (beneath the signal word panel) containing analysis information, PPE requirements and safety message
What Information Must Be Included on Arc Flash Hazard Labels? NFPA 70E 2012 requires that one of two specific pieces of information appear on arc flash labels: available incident energy or the required level of PPE. These values are determined by an arc flash hazard analysis, and need to be calculated separately for each piece of equipment labeled.
Danger or Warning Labels? Every arc flash label starts with the word "DANGER" or "WARNING" signifying the level of hazard. Danger labels contain a red and white bar and are reserved for a hazard presenting an eminently hazardous situation which will result in death or serious injury. ANSI Z534.4 states that a DANGER header should only be used in the "most extreme situations" in which an accident can result in injury or death. A good guideline is to use DANGER labels when incident energy is above 40 cal/cm2.
It's up to the individual to assess the hazard level of an arc flash location. Everyone should know arc flash hazard levels vary by calorie, voltage and work performed. Some locations may present an eminently hazardous situation which will result in death or serious injury that do not necessarily produce an arc flash of 40-cal or greater. These locations will require a danger sign, too.
Generally, danger signs should be reserved for arc flash locations deemed too dangerous to work on without being de-energized. In this case, the danger label should indicate no PPE exists to safely perform work while energized.
A WARNING header utilizes an orange and black bar, reserved for locations presenting a potentially hazardous situation, which could result in death or serious injury. Apply the correct arc flash label to accurately describe the level of hazard. A life may depend on it.
Caution signs are used to mark arc flash analysis locations. Caution signs indicate a potentially hazardous situation which may result in minor injury. Even though caution signs are not appropriate to use in an actual arc flash location, they do provide workers with appropriate information wherever an analysis has been performed and the hazard is deemed to be non-life-threatening. Plus, caution signs signal a piece of electrical equipment has been analyzed and determined to pose a lower level of hazard.
These arc flash warning labels are available with "Warning", "Danger", "Caution", and "Notice" headers.
Updating Your Arc Flash Labels: NFPA 70E requires that all arc flash analysis be reviewed at least every five years to "account for changes in the electrical distribution system that could affect the results of the arc flash hazard analysis." Although this does not require changes in arc flash labels, some consultants are recommending that the date of the arc flash analysis be included on the each label.
Other Information On Arc Flash Labels & Stickers: Additional information such as approach boundaries, voltage, or assumed working distance is also commonly included on arc flash labels.
Proper labels can be created with the DuraLabel PRO printer using DuraLabel supplies. The DuraLabel PRO can print die-cut arc flash labels, which provides a consistent format for all arc flash labels with space for all desired information.
- Add a company logo or motto.
- Use color coding to indicate the level of PPE that is required.
- Add color. Color communicated information faster.
Where must arc flash labels be located?
The NEC requires that hazard labels be located so that they are clearly visible to personnel before beginning maintenance or inspection. In other words, workers must be able to see and read the label before they are exposed to an arc flash hazard. This includes workers who might not be involved in working on the equipment, but are just passing through the area. Labels must be large enough to be legible at distances of up to several yards, depending on the severity of the hazard.
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