NFPA and IEEE to research arc-flash phenomena

Published on September 13, 2004
NFPA and IEEE to research arc-flash phenomena

September 13, 2004 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) have agreed to work on an initiative to fund and support research and testing to increase the understanding of the arc-flash phenomena. The results of this project will provide information to enhance electrical safety standards that predict the hazard, and provide practical safeguards for employees in the workplace.

The agreement is expected to be finalized soon.

Arc-flash is an electric current that passes through air when insulation or isolation between electrified conductors is no longer sufficient to withstand the applied voltage. The flash is immediate, but the result of these incidents can cause severe injury including burns. Each year more than 2,000 people are treated in burn centers with severe arc-flash injuries.

"We are pleased to be working in partnership with the NFPA in an effort to enable funding and management for much needed research so that both organizations can produce a comprehensive offering of standards on this critical safety topic," said Judith Gorman, managing director of the IEEE Standards Association. "Arc-flash has such serious repercussions for employees and their companies. We would like to play a major role in helping to reduce, through standards, arc-flash incidents."

NFPA is the developer of NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, 2004 edition, which addresses electrical safety requirements for employee workplaces for the practical safeguarding of employees. The standard covers the installation, safe work practices and procedures and safety-related maintenance requirements, as well as safety installation and work practices for special electrical equipment.

IEEE is the developer for IEEE 1584™-2002, Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations, which provides techniques for designers and facility operators to apply in determining arc-flash hazard distance and the incident energy to which employees could be exposed during their work on or near electrical equipment. It builds upon previous advancements in estimating arc flash incident energy and is useful in meeting the requirements of NFPA 70E.

"It's logical that both organizations join forces to pursue potential fundraising for research and testing that can expand the knowledge and information on arc-flash," said Art Cote, NFPA's executive vice president. "Combining the expertise of both organizations with additional research will result in the expansion of the engineering and technical information in IEEE 1584 and will provide the basis for the refinement of the guidelines on safety in the workplace, found in NFPA 70E."

About the NFPA
NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.

About the IEEE
The IEEE has more than 360,000 members in approximately 150 countries. Through its members, it is a leading authority in disciplines ranging from aerospace, computers and telecommunications to biomedicine, electric power and consumer electronics. It produces nearly 30 percent of the world's literature in the electrical and electronics engineering, computing and control technology fields and sponsors or cosponsors more than 300 technical conferences each year.

The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), a globally recognized standards-setting body, develops consensus standards through an open process. It has a portfolio of more than 870 completed standards and more than 400 standards in development. Over 15,000 IEEE members worldwide belong to IEEE-SA and voluntarily participate in standards activities.

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