As an electrical engineer, I love digging into details. Usually the more specific I am, the less chance for a safety mishap. But for contractors in the field, complexities within the electrical code can be difficult to address.
In 2002, Section 110.16(A) was adopted into the National Electrical Code (NEC) to address arc flash awareness via a simple label warning of arc energy dangers. But, in my opinion, it didn’t go far enough. So, during the last code review, 110.16(B) was introduced to advise of the electrical hazard and provide guidance in selecting required arc-rated personal protection equipment (PPE) for justified energized work. However, Section B has caused some controversy as public input calls for even greater levels of detail to help determine proper safety apparel with greater ease when on a job.
Why does proper PPE matter? Jim Dollard, NFPA 70E committee member and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98 representative, says it best. “People are injured or killed not because they wear the wrong levels of arc-rated clothing but because they don’t wear any. And if you’re not wearing arc-rated clothing, you’re wearing fuel!”