OCS Group’s Lunch and Learn: Arc Flash

You might have heard of the term “Arc Flash”, but what is it exactly? And why is it so important for safety professionals to be responsible and completely aware of what the issues are with electrical arc flash safety? It is imperative to learn and be alert at all times when handling electrical equipment to prevent future disasters. Recently OCS Group provided our first Arc Flash course for 2018 and provided a Lunch and Learn on this very topic at the OCS Group facility in conjunction with leading energy experts. The Lunch and Learn included presentations from multiple groups providing differing viewpoints of Arc Flash, and was attended by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

I have compiled a list of reasons why you need an arc flash analysis.

But first…

What is Arc Flash?

Arc Flash, also called a “flashover”, is the light and heat produced as part of an arc fault (a high power discharge of electricity between two or more conductors). Arc flash is the result of a rapid release of energy due to an arcing fault between two phase busbars, neutral or a ground.

Cause of Arc Flash explosion

What causes an arc flash to occur?

  • Carelessness
  • Worn or brok­en conductor insulation
  • Exposed live parts
  • Loose wire connections
  • Improperly maintained switches and circuit break­ers
  • Obstructed disconnect panels
  • Water or liquid near electrical equipment
  • High voltage cables
  • Static electricity
  • Damaged tools and equipment

Why do you need an arc flash analysis?

  • OSHA mandates that electrical facilities be installed per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70 and NFPA 70E.
  • It provides information to protect everyone from the risks of an Arc Flash incident and potential for long-term equipment downtime and fatalities.
  • Adverse consequences for not adhering to the Arc Flash standard NFPA 70E. This includes: heavy fines, productivity loss, and high medical costs; just to name a few.
  • It is still the Facility’s responsibility to have all electrical equipment tagged with the proper Arc Flash labels and enforce the wearing of the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when anyone is performing services on live electrical equipment.
  • In the 2002 and 2005 versions of NFPA 70, grandfathering was an acceptable practice.  Starting from the 2008 version, grandfathering is no longer an acceptable practice; therefore, all facilities (both existing and new) must have an Arc Flash analysis performed and have labels installed.
  • To ensure a perfectly impartial study, it’s best to seek a third-party engineering firm to perform all Arc Flash risk analysis.  Manufacturers tend to maintain a less objective attitude regarding the safety of their products.


In conclusion, there are many more reasons why an arc flash analysis is vital in reducing the risk of an incident. Whether it is how it’s performed, simple awareness and knowledge, and/or qualified electrical safety training, understanding the risks of electrical hazards can help you understand and ultimately ensure safety and compliance.

Want to learn more? Please read “Arc Flash: Know the Risks, Regulatory Requirements and Preventative Techniques” blog here.


For more information on Arc Flash, contact OCS Group at (281) 393-4704.

Please e-mail us directly: media@ocsgroup.com

NOTE: Please check your local regional, state and federal Arc Flash legal requirements. OCS Group can provide this service for your local region.