Step 6: Follow Strategies to Mitigate and Control Arc Flash Hazards

PPE mask testing

This often overlooked step is one of the most crucial in optimizing the safety and performance of the power system. The arc flash study performed in step two essentially establishes the arc flash energy levels and the required personal protective equipment (PPE) for the power system in the existing condition. However, the calculated arc flash energies may be high enough to hinder some normal tasks from being performed within the arc flash boundary of the equipment. For example, an incident energy of 35 cal/cm2 may be calculated for a 600-volt motor control center. To protect the worker from the arc flash levels, PPE such as heavy arc-rated clothing and flash hood will be needed.

Yet, workers may view the required arc flash PPE to actually be a hindrance to the job. The difficulty in movement under heavy clothing and the reduction in eye sight under the heavy flash hood make it difficult, if not impossible, to perform proper testing and troubleshooting. Arc flash mitigation has been a rapidly developing area of research and development for Schneider Electric.

The goal of arc flash mitigation is to reduce the arc flash energy, and thus the PPE, to a level that permits normal tasks to be performed on equipment.