Arc Flash Audit

Definition - What does Arc Flash Audit mean?

An arc flash audit, also known as an arc flash risk assessment or arc flash analysis, is a means of analyzing the risk of an arc flash incident associated with a given piece of equipment or other electrical source in the workplace.

Arc flash audits include both a systematic review of potential arc flash hazards and a detailing of the safety requirements necessary to properly mitigate each one.

Safeopedia explains Arc Flash Audit

These assessments can also be used to determine a firm’s existing compliance with various mandatory and consensus safety standards related to arc flashes, such as OSHA and NFPA standards. The specific duties that these standards impose vary depending upon the severity of the risk posed by a particular electrical source, and so these assessments are necessary for employers to gain a full understanding of their safety obligations.

Arc flash audits are a major component of workplace safety assurance in environments where potentially hazardous workplace equipment is present. While electrical hazards are commonly thought of as being related to electrical shocks, 80 percent of electrical work fatalities are actually caused by arc flash burns, and they account for about 400 workplace fatalities per year in the United States.

Audits are conducted by qualified persons (e.g. engineers) and assure employee safety by examining electrical components to determine their arc-flash boundaries, incident energy, and the type of personal protective equipment necessary to work safely around them. If there are multiple electrical sources in an environment, an audit will account for their cumulative risk.

The steps necessary for U.S. employers to comply with OSHA’s electrical safety regulations are detailed in NFPA standards 70E. Although NFPA standards are technically voluntary, if an incident results in death or injury, OSHA is able to cite employers for noncompliance due to the NFPA’s status as a recognized source of consensus standards. The NFPA’s 70E standards are highly influential, and they are utilized as the in-whole or in-part basis for the arc-flash audit standards of many other national jurisdictions such as Canada. Reflecting the terminology used in NFPA standards, the most recognized term for an arc flash audit is an “arc flash risk assessment.”

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