Electrical Safety and Arc Flash Mitigation Techniques for Water and Wastewater

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Over the past few years more data and anecdotes have become available to illustrate the exact nature of electrical injury or death. While the hazards from direct contact are widely known, lesser understood is the injury potential from proximity to a fault event. The National Electrical Code (NEC), Underwriters Laboratory (UL), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have recognized this hazard and implemented codes and standards to address this. However, many water and wastewater utilities may not be aware of these requirements.

This paper examines basic safe practices a water and wastewater facility is required to implement to minimize accident potential. Not only will this help a facility to protect staff from injury, but it can help to prevent equipment outages that could cripple a utilities ability to treat water.

This paper is intended to be introductory in nature, and is not intended to be a working guideline for an arc flash mitigation plan. Only a proper detailed engineering analysis of a utility can help to develop a plan.

This paper is divided into four different interrelated areas. The first is an overview of arc flash, its associated hazards, and what can happen when they are not addressed properly. The second part illustrates what a municipalitie's responsibility is, what it takes to fulfill these obligations, and the challenge small municipality's face. The third is the determination of what tools and protective clothing (PPE) are required to protect workers from hazards, as well as safe working distances. The fourth section looks at equipment and maintenance techniques that help minimize the hazards.

Keywords: Arc Blast; Arc Flash; Burns; Death; Electrical; Fault; IEEE 1584; Injury; NFPA 70E; OSHA; Safety

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864710798207576

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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