Flame Resistant Standards and Regulations
The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has served as an authority in the U.S. on fire, electricity and building safety since 1896. In 1979, the NFPA published NFPA 70E, a Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. NFPA 70E is a comprehensive national consensus standard for electrical safety issues covering work practices, installation, maintenance and special equipment.
Over the years several editions of NFPA 70E have been published. The 2000 edition was the first to include electric arc flash hazard and required flame resistant clothing to protect workers against it. The most recent edition approved on February 11, 2004, added sections on personal protective equipment (PPE). OSHA recognizes NFPA 70E as an industry practice and has referenced it in citations.
Flame resistant clothing is addressed in Chapter 1 of the standard, Safety-Related Work Practices. It states that all equipment must be de-energized before being worked on unless the employer can demonstrate that de-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards or is infeasible due to equipment design or operational limitations. If de-energizing the equipment is not feasible, the employer must establish a “flash protection boundary” which is the minimum distance from an arc source where a person could receive a “curable” or second degree burn if an arc flash occurred. An employer must determine the appropriate PPE including FRC required for all employees who cross the flash protection boundary. A hazard risk assessment to determine arc hazard level must be completed. NFPA 70E provides several options for determining arc hazard level and it is defined by “calories per square centimeter” or cal/cm2.
After arc hazard levels have been assigned for job tasks, required protective clothing may be determined. The table, adapted from NFPA 70E-2004 (Table 130.7(C)(11)) gives the five hazard risk categories, corresponding required minimum arc rating of PPE. Layering flame-resistant clothing increases thermal protection and should be considered when evaluating required PPE.
For more information or to purchase a copy of the NFPA 70E standard visit NFPA.
CSA Z462-08 Workplace Electrical Safety Standard
More than 80 years ago, CSA created the first standard for installation practices of electrical equipment. What’s been missing is a work practice standard for those who work on or near energized electrical equipment.
CSA Z462 is the country’s first all-Canadian comprehensive standard to protect electrical workers. Z462 will compliment CSA Z460 Control of Hazardous Energy – Lockout and the Canadian Electrical Code.
CSA Z462 provides guidance on the assessment of electrical hazards and design of safe work spaces around electrical power systems. It stipulates requirements for identifying hazardous equipment and for the development of safe work procedures around this equipment. This Standard also gives guidance to electrical workers on the selection of personal protective equipment and protective clothing.
CSA Z462 is based on the U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. In fact, CSA Z462 was developed in parallel with the 2009 edition of NFPA 70E. Attempts have been made to harmonize Z462 with NFPA 70E as much as practicable for Canadian Workplaces.
The first edition of CSA-Z462 will initially be recognized as a voluntary best practice standard for use anywhere in Canada. In the future, as Z462 gains acceptance, each Province and the Federal Government may choose to reference it in regulations, and thereby make it mandatory. This is a similar process followed by regulators in referencing the updated Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) Part 1, 21st Edition, C22.1-09.
This performance specification by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) International covers the flame resistance of textile materials to be used for wearing apparel for use by electrical workers exposed to momentary electric arc and related thermal hazards. For ASTM standards, visit ASTM.
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269
This section of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910.269 covers the operation and maintenance of electric power generation, control, transformation, transmission, and distribution lines and equipment. Further information may be found at OSHA.
Effective January 1, 2009, the NESC enacted a regulation that states the employer shall ensure that an assessment is performed to determine potential exposure to an electric arc for employees who work on or near energized parts or equipment. If the assessment determines a potential employee exposure greater than 2 cal/cm² exists, the employer shall require the employee to wear clothing or a clothing system that has an effective rating at least equal to the anticipated level of arc energy.
Published exclusively by the IEEE, the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC®) sets the ground rules for practical safeguarding of persons during the installation, operation, or maintenance of electric supply and communication Lines and associated equipment. The NESC contains the basic provisions that are considered necessary for the safety of employees and the public under the specified conditions. For more information, visit IEEE Standards Association.