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Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
NFPA and IEEE Begin Joint Arc-Flash Research Program to Improve Electrical Safety Standards

PISCATAWAY, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 20, 2005--The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and IEEE have agreed to collaborate on an initiative to gain deeper insight into arc-flash phenomena and the hazards they pose for those working on or near electrical equipment operating at or above 50 volts. The data and information generated by this research and testing program will go to strengthen electrical safety standards and code processes.

The first phase of the program will result in a plan to define new information needed regarding arc-flash events and what research is required to obtain it.

The plan is expected to be delivered by mid 2005. The agreement between the two organizations sets up a steering committee that will, in part, seek funding from industry and government sources to carry out the plan.

The joint program will evaluate existing test protocols and create new ones, as necessary, to understand how arc-flash energy can affect the human body and clothing.

This energy includes hot gases and other characteristics, including pressure, acoustic and electromagnetic energy, such as ultraviolet, infrared and x-ray radiation.

The program will also look at other factors, including how energy varies with distance from the arc and how energy transfers from an arc to its surroundings in ways that might cause injuries.

"The initiative defined in this landmark agreement between the IEEE and the NFPA is designed to give the industry more effective tools for dealing with arc-flash events," says Judy Gorman, Managing Director of the IEEE Standards Association.

"From the IEEE's perspective, it will give us the technical foundation to take our arc- flash standard to a new level. The data generated will help us guide further testing and create more accurate arc-flash engineering calculations that can then be used in designing safer equipment and work environments."

From the NFPA's perspective, Bob Vondrasek, NFPA Vice President, Codes and Standards Operation, says the two organizations agreed to collaborate for the good of industries concerned about arc flash.

"As the two primary bodies involved in arc-flash standards," he continued, "we established the commitment and trust to conduct a program to look deeper into arc-flash events. This to will enable the NFPA to give workers updated tables and references they need to protect themselves from arc-flash hazards when they work with live equipment at different electrical loads."

The research and testing plan to be developed by the steering committee will include test protocols, specifications for test instruments, and instrument placement relative to an arc.

Test protocols may include those that account for arcing time, working distance, frequency, voltage, current, AC/DC bus spacing, electrode gap and placement, and enclosure size, shape and grounding, among other factors.

"This will be a practical program with extensive testing to compare and verify physics-based calculations against empirically derived calculations," says Bruce McClung, Co-chair of the IEEE 1584 Working Group.

"It will be based on real-world data and consider such factors as how the equipment orientation in an enclosure and enclosure openings affect the energy released in an arcing fault. This will help us provide guidance for reengineering safer electrical equipment and systems that reduce the potential for arc flash."

According to Ray Jones, Chair of the NFPA 70E Working Group, "This program should have a huge payoff in preventing injuries. It will yield standards for the industrial, commercial and utility electric power industries that more closely reflect arc-flash and arc-blast experience in the workplace. These standards will allow the industry to take steps to prevent or mitigate hazards and help workers protect themselves against the possibility of injury."

The NFPA-IEEE initiative builds on existing standards, especially:

IEEE 1584(TM), "IEEE Guide for Performing Arc Flash Calculations", which identifies ways to determine arc-flash hazard distance and the incident energy workers can be exposed to when they work on or near electrical equipment.

NFPA 70E, "Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace", which is a national, consensus standard that addresses the full range of electrical safety issues, including arc-flash hazards. The standard covers work practices, equipment maintenance, special equipment requirements and installation requirements needed for personnel safety.

About the National Fire Protection Association

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international, nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. For more information on the NFPA, visit

About the IEEE Standards Association

The IEEE Standards Association, a globally recognized standards-setting body, develops consensus standards through an open process that brings diverse parts of an industry together. These standards set specifications and procedures based on current scientific consensus.

The IEEE-SA has a portfolio of more than 870 completed standards and more than 400 standards in development. For information on IEEE-SA, see:

About the IEEE

The IEEE has more than 360,000 members in approximately 160 countries. Through its members, the organization is a leading authority on areas ranging from aerospace, computers and telecommunications to biomedicine, electric power and consumer electronics. The IEEE produces nearly 30 percent of the world's literature in the electrical and electronics engineering, computing and control technology fields.

This nonprofit organization also sponsors or cosponsors more than 300 technical conferences each year.

Go to: for additional information about the IEEE

[This message has been edited by Joe Tedesco (edited 01-22-2005).]

Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant
Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
Thanks for that Joe. [Linked Image]
And I think that a joint effort like this is not before it's time.
This energy includes hot gases and other characteristics, including pressure, acoustic and electromagnetic energy, such as ultraviolet, infrared and x-ray radiation.
It could also be called more than that too, any sort of large arc-fault can have a psychological effect on a victim too. [Linked Image]

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
Thanks for that original post.
Is there going to be any discussion on the way that Arc-Faults actually occur?
I could say PPE until I'm blue in the face, but at the end of the day, if Electrician's couldn't give a toss about thier own safety, or that of others working around them, what's the point?.
I realise that we have a good bunch of guys here at ECN that do care and to a certain extent, that should be reflected in thier Insurance premiums.
I recently went to a job where I was required to de-energise the installation before work started at 5pm.
I walked in to the switch-board area at 4:30pm to find a guy holding a wire as thick as my middle finger, no gloves and he was shaking like he was holding a Cobra, it was live.
I went and dropped the pole fuses.
But idiots like this Joe, just can't help themselves.
Had that guy let go of that wire, wether by muscle fatigue or whatever, there would have been a HUGE explosion.
1000A@ 400V.
Fault Current would be 500kA.
Not something I'd like to get in the way of. [Linked Image]

Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 119
I have been reviewing an "arc-flash" and electrical safety training program from Cooper-Bussman that appears to be fairly comprehensive.

I'm just curious if anyone here has used or has gone through this training. If so, what did you think about the content. Was it useful, too technical, or just the right mix.

Here is a link to the program on the Bussman website. The training booklet can be downloaded.

Let me know what you think about it. [Linked Image]

Duh... it would help to paste in the link. [Linked Image]

[This message has been edited by safetygem (edited 02-16-2005).]

Joined: May 2004
Posts: 162
I've gone through a NFPA 70E traing program for instructors which incorporated that information from Bussman, as well as NFPA, OSHA, Salibury, and Westex, It was very informative


Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
Charlie (cpal),
That sounds like a pretty comprehensive sort of a training package.
Only thing that tends to worry/annoy me about safety training is the fact that it seems to be made to/ and delivered to a formula.
I could be wrong and please disagree with me if you feel I'm wrong.
That's just my take on things.
Safety to my way of thinking, is a thing that you have to get inside your head.
Until that happens, you are just not thinking. [Linked Image]

Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 582
Ron Offline
It's a good program. Just be careful that you see where the line is drawn between training and marketing. They are very pro fuses vs breakers as you may guess why. But don't look a gift horse in the mouth, its a good program.

Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 6
New Member
Safetygem; I went through the Cooper-Bussman program and it really opens your eyes. I know over the years that I have become complacent as well as some of the people I work with. I don't know why it takes a severe injury or death to wake us up, I guess that we just don't think about what that conductor is connected to sometimes.
They start out with some video of arc flash incidents and results and go through fusing, figuring arc flash calcs and PPE. They have some real interesting specs on sound levels,pressure and force,heat and vaporized materials in the flash.

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
At the end of the day guys.
If you take on a training course and you learn something along the way, isn't the course worth it?.
It could be that one thing that you did learn, that could save your life (or someone elses) one day. [Linked Image]

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