Safety & Health

Electrical Hazard Safety

Are the Arc Flash Hazards in Your Workplace Properly Labeled?

Grainger Editorial Staff

A common practice for keeping employees safe, arc flash labeling helps companies inform workers about potential electrical hazards in the workplace.

Equipment labels play an important role in keeping workers well informed and safe while they’re working in and around energized equipment. In an effort to minimize the occurrence of arc flash incidents, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) outlines important labeling rules in NFPA 70E as follows:

  • Safety signs, safety symbols, or tags must be used (where necessary) to warn employees about electrical hazards that might endanger them.
  • These signs and tags must meet the requirements of the applicable state, federal, or local codes and standards.
  • Safety signs, tags, and barricades used to identify energized “lookalike” equipment can be employed as an additional preventative measure.
  • Arc flash labels must contain the nominal system voltage, arc flash boundary and at least one of the following:
    • Available incident energy and the corresponding working distance, or the arc flash PPE category for the equipment, but not both
    • Minimum arc rating of clothing
    • Site-specific level of personal protective equipment (PPE)

Addressing the Hazards

Electrical equipment such as switchboards, panelboards, industrial control panels, meter socket enclosures, and motor control centers that are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized must be properly labeled with an arc flash label to maintain the highest levels of safety.

The information displayed on the label should only be present based on the method used to determine the arc flash risk. If the arc flash PPE category method is used, for example, then only the PPE category (1-4) should appear. And if the incident energy analysis method issued, then the incident energy (cal/cm²) should appear.

All calculations and data on the label must be documented to support the information on the label. The data shall be reviewed for accuracy at intervals not to exceed five years, and the owner of the electrical equipment is responsible for the documentation, installation and maintenance of the labels.

As you review your facilities and identify any arc flash risks, be sure to label them in accordance with NFPA 70E and in a way that employees will understand and respond to.


National Fire Protection Association, NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.


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