The National Fire Protection Agency is the author of NFPA 70, also know as the National Electrical Code (NEC). A national consensus was needed for safety while working around live electrical equipment. NFPA 70 E is the standard for safe electrical work practices. NFPA 70 E addresses specific topics such as:
- Safety Related Work Practices
- Safety Related Maintenance Practices
- Safety Requirements for Special Equipment
NFPA 70 suggests that a hazard/risk analysis be conducted prior to working on electrical equipment. The core of the analysis is based on shock and arc flash boundaries.
Arc flash can be deadly. Arc flash can be considered as a short circuit through the air. It produces tremendous stored-up energy that will travel outward from electrical equipment. An arc flash can produce temperatures as high as 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hotter than the sun and produces a force that is equivalent to being hit by a hand grenade. The impact is so high it can cause hearing and memory loss. If life is not lost, it will leave you severely burned and injured.
In addition, the conditions that produce an arc flash, even when no arc flash occurs, will also lead to damage to electrical equipment causing unplanned outages and costly downtime.