by , on February 28, 2010

This is an older story but a good one to see when OSHA started working to enforce more on electrical safety surrounding arc flash.  Up until 2000, OSHA really only addressed arc flash in electric utilities.  The 1994 law 29 CFR 1910.269 came out then and OSHA really started focusing on arc flash in utilities.  The utilities really helped write much of the standard but the arc flash portion came from OSHA direct from testimony from ASTM’s Allen Bingham.  Bingham (a personal friend) had been doing research while at Georga Power with Dupont’s Dr. Tom Neal (also a personal friend) at Duke Energy’s Challenger Lab with ASTM.  Their results and Dupont history indicated that arc flashes often ignite clothing and cause burns of fatalities.  Duke’s Alan Privette had done a lot of the research up until that point spurred by accident history and Ralph Lee’s paper on arc flash.

The 2000 version of NFPA 70E picked up clothing.  In 1995 the main focus was on shock protection but the idea of arc flash boundary was introduced based on Ralph Lee’s 1982 paper.  Ralph created a simple model adapted from an explosion model and assumed arc flash released mostly infrared radiation (partially true).  This was seminal work that is still used in some circles today though it goes off quite a bit at higher voltages.

OSHA’s citations since 2000 have been mentioning NFPA 70E more and more in the abatement wording.

For the record.  Ford Motor implemented safety changes to prevent these types of injuries.  GM had been on the committee actively involved and Ford was partially represented by Drake Drobnick from the Visteon division.  The Visteon program implemented after this accident was among one of the best we have seen.  Drake now works with e-Hazard doing electrical safety training and consulting.

Click here to read the OSHA press release on this citation.

Click here to read the original citation in PDF.

Hugh Hoagland
About author:
Hugh Hoagland is the foremost tester of clothing and PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Read more about Hugh.

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