Author: Hugh O’Kelly BSc MPhil CEng FIEI FIET, engineering director, Premium Power Ltd
Among the risks associated with working on live electrical equipment, the issue of arc-flash hazard has emerged as a subject of increasing focus, firstly in the USA and more recently in Europe. This article outlines the background to arc-flash hazard assessment in both jurisdictions. It provides an overview of the relevant assessment procedures and how US standards should be considered in the context of EU, UK and Irish legislation.
During the years 2000 to 2010 inclusive, Health & Safety Authority (HSA) publications indicate that there were over 2,000 reported injuries and 26 deaths resulting from electrical accidents in the workplace in Ireland. It is a requirement under Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 (S.I. no. 10 of 2005) that “every employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees”. This clearly extends to working on electrical systems.
S.I.299 of 2007 Part 3 (Electricity) states that “it is preferable that work on or near electrical equipment should be carried out when that equipment is dead, but work on or near live conductors may be permitted in exceptional circumstances”. This standard also states that work on live equipment should not be undertaken unless: