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 http://www.nfpa.org
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: http://standards.ieee.org/
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: http://www.ieee.org
for additional information about the IEEE