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NFPA and IEEE to Research Arc Flash Phenomena


Karen McCabe, IEEE Standards Association; +1 732 562 3824

Margie Coloian, NFPA Public Affairs; +1-617-984-7275

QUINCY, M.A. AND PISCATAWAY, N.J., USA 13 September 2004 The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the IEEE have agreed to work on an initiative to fund and support research and testing to increase the understanding of arc-flash phenomena. The results of this research and testing will provide information to enhance electrical safety standards that predict the hazard, and provide practical safeguards for employees in the workplace. Details of the agreement between the two organizations are expected to be finalized shortly.

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 results 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 of much needed research. Together, 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 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 address electrical safety requirements for employee workplaces for practical safeguarding of employees. The standard covers 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 fund-raising 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."

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