You've finally done it, you've convinced management to allocate some funds towards arc flash safety and knowing that certain activities and equipment can cost a lot of money you've ended up with a fairly healthy budget for the year. Congrats!
You then start to look into what solutions are available and it happens... you get that sinking feeling in your stomach when you realize you could spend it on the wrong thing! But no worries you've come to the right place, in this article I'm going to lay out the top 3 places to spend your arc flash dollars... and btw, equipment mods and arc flash models didn't make the list.
So before you go and spend $100k on an arc flash study or even more on equipment refurbishments make sure you've completely nailed it on these 3 things.
In my opinion, this is the single most overlooked portion of any electrical safety program... training.
"But Jon we get our guy's trained every three years just like the standard calls for."
Really? That's it? Try to remember something you learned three years ago... go on take a minute think about it... exactly... for that matter, try to remember something you did three months ago or even three days ago. One session (which was probably a hazard awareness session) every three years doesn't cut it.
Most ideas people learn in a safety training session are brand new to them. People probably sit there and go "Wow, that's an interesting idea, never thought about it like that before" and then they go back to their jobs and do everything the same. If you're lucky, someone might at least get to the point where he or she now intend to go back and do something about it. That's great, but it's got to be followed up with more training. More on this in the next section.
#2 Program Implementation
The program (or electrical safety program) is what lays out all the necessary training that I'm talking about in the first section, as well as a plethora of other things like PPE, tools, equipment, procedures, roles & responsibilities, and on and on.
I'm using the word training a bit loosely here. What probably comes to mind for you is a classroom setting, with PowerPoint slides, maybe some video, an instructor and coffee & donuts. And that's fine, that type of training is important and necessary to start the thought process. But once the program is laid out you need to implement... and this means more training.
This secondary training or program implementation could be a mix of things. On-the-job, classroom, online, one-on-one, it doesn't really matter...what matters is that you have an actionable plan of how to get every employee bought into the safe way of working on or near equipment that poses as an arc flash threat.
Until they invent new-electricity, electricians will have to work on live equipment. They will have to at least do testing and troubleshooting on live equipment.
Now this is where the argument for equipment mods might come into place and hey that's fine, I'd love to hear your comments below... but remember I'm talking about getting the most for your money and blowing your entire arc flash budget on 2-5% of your entire exposures doesn't seem like that great of an idea to me.
Here's my point. Once you have the PPE you can wear it to 100% of the jobs you have to do. Equipment modifications like adding test ports on all your low-voltage MCC's (which I do think are great if used properly), upgrading to high-speed relays, or installing infrared test portals only protect you on certain tasks and certain parts of your facility. Probably closer to 5-10% of the jobs you have to do.
Spend your money wisely. While I do think equipment modifications and arc flash models are important you should target your spending on properly trained workers, a great program and access to the proper PPE first.
I hope you found this article useful and if you did please share it using the social media buttons at the bottom of the post!
For more information with regards to on-site training and electrical safety consulting services, you can contact me directly.