The following questions regarding OSHA were taken from www.osha.gov
How and when was OSHA created?
Congress created OSHA under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which was signed by President Richard M. Nixon on December 29, 1970.
How many work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths occur each year in the United States?
In 2005, there were 4.2 million occupational injuries and illnesses among U.S. employees. Approximately, 4.6 of every 100 employees experience a job-related injury or illness, and in 2006, 5,703 employees lost their lives on the job.
How many inspections does OSHA conduct each year?
OSHA inspected 38,579 workplaces during Fiscal Year 2006. The 26 states running their own OSHA programs conducted an additional 58,058 inspections in FY 2006.
What are OSHA's inspection priorities?
Top priority are reports of imminent dangers-accidents about to happen; second are fatalities or accidents serious enough to send three or more employees to the hospital. Third are employee complaints. Referrals from other government agencies are fourth. Fifth are targeted inspections-such as Site Specific Targeting Program, which focuses on employers that report high injury and illness rates, and special emphasis programs that zero in on hazardous work such as trenching or equipment such as mechanical power presses. Follow-up inspections are the final priority.
What's the penalty for violating an OSHA standard?
OSHA penalties range from $0 to $70,000, depending upon how likely the violation is to result in serious harm to employees. Other-than-serious violations often carry no penalties but may result in penalties of up to $7,000. Serious violations may have penalties up to $7,000. Repeat and willful violations may have penalties as high as $70,000. Penalties may be discounted if an employer has a small number of employees, has demonstrated good faith, or has few or no previous violations. For more information on OSHA penalties, see Section 17 of the OSH Act.
How can I find out about OSHA inspections of my workplace or other companies?
OSHA maintains an inspection database on www.osha.gov that allows you to search for companies by name or by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. The search can be limited by state or year.
What if OSHA inspects my workplace and I disagree with the findings?
Employers have the right to contest OSHA citations and/or penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Employers must file notice of contest within 15 working days of being issued citations.
Who must keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses?
About 1.5 million employers with 11 or more employees-20 percent of the establishments OSHA covers-must keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. Workplaces in low-hazard industries such as retail, service, finance, and real estate are exempt from recordkeeping requirements.
Do I need to put up an OSHA poster in my workplace?
Yes, all employers must post the federal or a state OSHA poster to provide their employees with information on their safety and health rights.
Arc Flash Safety
What is an arcing fault?
An arcing fault is the flow of current through the air between phase conductors or phase conductors and neutral or ground. An arcing fault can release tremendous amounts of concentrated radiant energy at the point of the arcing in a small fraction of a second resulting in extremely high temperatures, a tremendous pressure blast, and shrapnel hurling at high velocity (in excess of 700 miles per hour).
What causes an Electric Arc?
An arc occurs when electric current flows between two or more separated energized conducting surfaces. Some arcs are caused by human error including dropped tools, accidental contact with eletrical systems, and improper work procedures. Another common cause of an arc is insulation failure. The fault current's magnetic effect causes conductors to separate producing an arc. Build-up of dust, impurities, and corrosion on insulating surfaces can provide a path for current. Sparks produced during racking of breakers, replacement of fuses, and closing into faulted lines can also produce an arc. Birds, bees, and rodents can also cause the snapping of leads at connections.
What can happen if I am exposed to an arc flash?
Exposure to an arc flash frequently results in a variety of serious and in some cases death. Workers have been injured even though they were ten feet or more away from the arc center. Worker injuries can include damaged hearing, eyesight, and severe burns requiring years of skin grafting and rehabilitation. Equipment can be destroyed causing extensive downtime and requiring expensive replacement and repair. The cost of treatment for the injured worker can exceed $1,000,000/case. This does not include very significant litigation fees, insurance increases, fines, accident investigation, etc. This also does not include process loss to the employer.
What can I do to reduce my risk to arc flash exposure?
Worker training, preventive maintenance and an effective safety program can significantly reduce arc flash exposure. Preventive maintenance should be conducted on a routine basis to ensure safe operation.
How do you determine what PPE is required?
In order to select the proper PPE, incident energy must be known at every point where workers may be required to perform work on energized equipment. These calculations need to be performed by a qualified person such as an electrical engineer. All parts of the body that may be exposed to the arc flash need to be covered by the appropriate type and quality of PPE. Proper PPE can include Flame Resistant clothing, helmet or headgear, face shield, safety glasses, gloves, shoes, etc. depending upon the magnitude of the arc energy.
What standards regulate arc flash hazards?
There are four main regulations governing arc flash which include:
1) OSHA Standards 29-CFR, Part 1910. Occupational Safety and Health Standards. 1910 sub parts S (electrical) Standard number 1910.333 specifically adresses Standards for Work Practices and references NFPA 70E.
2)The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 70 - 2002 "The National Electrical Code" (NEC) contains requirements for warning labels.
3) NFPA 70E 2000 provides guidance on implementing appropriate work practices that are required to safeguard workers from injury while working on or near exposed electrical conductors or circuit parts that could become energized.
Who enforces these new standards?
OSHA is an enforcer of safety practices in the workplace OSHA 1910.132(d), and 1926.28(a) states that the employer is responsible to assess the hazards in the work place, select, have, and use the correct PPE, and document the assessment. Though OSHA does not per se, enforce the NFPA 70E standard, 2000 Edition, OSHA considers the NFPA standard a recognized industry practice and the administration's field inspectors carry with them a copy of the NFPA 70E and use it to enforce safety procedures related to arc flash. The employer is required to conduct the hazard assessment in accordance with 29CFR1910.132(d)(1). Employers who conduct the hazard/risk assessment, and select and require their employees to use PPE, as stated in the NFPA 70E standard, 2004 Edition, are deemed in compliance with the Hazard Assessment and Equipment Selection OSHA Standard. Electrical inspectors across the country are now enforcing the new labeling requirements set forth in the 2002 National Electric Code (NEC). In addition CFR 29. 1910.335 - Requires employers to provide protection from electrical Shock and Arc Hazards.
What date is required to be on the new arc flash warning labels?
110.16 only requires the label state the existence of an arc flash hazard. It is suggested that the party responsible for the label include more information on the specific parameters of the harzard including:
1) Available Short-Circuit Current
2) Flash Protection Boundary
3) Incident energy at 18" expresed in cal/cm2 PPE required
4)Voltage shock hazard
5) Limited shock approach boundary
6) Restricted shock approach boundary
7)Prohibited shock approach boundary
What is the difference between NFPA 70E and IEEE 1584 calculations?
NFPA 70E method estimates incident energy based on a theoretical maximum value of power dissipated by arcing faults. This is believed to be generally conservative. In contrast, IEEE 1584 estimates incident energy with empirical equations developed from statistical analysis of measurements taken from numerous laboratory tests.
What is a flash hazard?
A flash hazard is defined in NFPA 70E as a dangerous condition associated with the release of energy caused by an electric arc.
What is the flash protection boundary?
The flash protection boundary is the distance from the arc source at which the potential incident heat energy from an arcing fault falling on the surface of the skin is 1.2 calories/cm2.
What is "Limited Approach Boundary"?
The limited approach boundary defines a boundary around exposed live parts that may not be crossed by "unqualified" person unless accompanied by "qualified" persons.
What is "Restricted Approach Boundary"?
The restricted approach boundary is the area near the exposed live parts that may be crossed only by "qualified" persons using appropriate shock prevention techniques and equipment.
What is "Prohibited Approach Boundary"?
The prohibited approach boundary is the area near exposed live parts that may be crossed only by "qualified" persons using same protection as if direct contact with live parts is planned. This is defined by the nominal voltage.
What is the definition of a "qualified" person?
A qualified person is one who has received documented training in the hazards of working on energized equipment in general, and has been trained in the hazards of the particular equipment to be serviced. Training must include the use and proper application of PPE.
What is an Arc Flash Study/Analysis?
An Arc Flash Study/Analysis is an engineering study that determines the amount of current that could flow at any point in an electrical system, and the timing required for the nearest circuit protective device to operate to clear a fault.