Keeping pace with new and evolving technologies, practices, and standards for electrical safety is an ongoing endeavor. In industrial environments, it is especially challenging with so many personnel working directly or indirectly with powerful electrical equipment and systems. Mitigating electrical hazards requires a well-rounded approach spanning advanced safety tools, technologies, personal protective equipment (PPE), software, and best practices. Inadequate protections pose substantial and inexcusable risks.
This article is part of our monthly Technology Toolbox column. Read more from Sheila Kennedy.
Tools and technologies
Power tool accessories that isolate an electrical current can prevent it from reaching the operator. “Shock-resistant hand tools are not new, but the fact is that professional electricians are leaning on impact drivers more and more to get jobs done quickly,” says Gina Hurt, product manager at Crescent APEX. The company’s eSHOK-GUARD isolated bit holders and socket isolators are impact-rated to meet the demand while providing the desirable safety measure.
“With eSHOK-GUARD, electricians and others working around electricity get to use the power tools that they want to use, knowing they’re protected from shock, all while not having to compromise on quality,” observes Hurt.
The Chicken Switch from CBS ArcSafe is a remote switching device that allows personnel to stand outside the arc-flash boundary, minimizing the need for a full-body arc-flash hazard suit. A wireless format is available for certain remote switch kit (RSK) models.
The redesigned Chicken Switch model RSK-CS01W enhances safety and the user experience for remotely operating circuit breaker control switches, says Russ Safreed, design engineer at CBS ArcSafe. “It improves safety by increasing worker distances up to 100 ft from the arc flash hazard. This is 50 ft beyond the capabilities of the original cabled version. User experience is improved by employing a rechargeable lithium battery that clips onto the actuator and indicator lights on the remote to show successful radio communication.”
PPE that protects against electric shock can also be comfortable. New Electrigrip dielectric boots from Honeywell Salisbury are designed for workers who depend on a single over-the-foot boot to provide the electrical safety protection they need on worksites, says Kevin Pietras, director of offering management for Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions.
The combination work and dielectric boots are tested for hazardous environments up to 20kV, protecting against step potential. “They have heavy-duty outsoles for enhanced traction and slip resistance; puncture-resistant soles to reduce the possibility of damage or injury from nails or other sharp objects; and provide cushioning and stability with arch support and a shock-absorbing heel pad for all-day comfort,” adds Pietras.
ETAP software from Operation Technology is an intelligent, model-driven electrical power systems solution used to design, operate, and automate the power systems. It has an integrated Arc Flash Software Suite for performing AC and DC arc flash analysis on low, medium, and high voltage systems. Assorted electrical safety and grounding capabilities are also available.
ETAP’s integrated electrical digital twin platform enables simulation and analysis of virtual models of processes and systems, including arc flash and safety systems for AC and DC networks, under various physical and operational conditions. Schneider Electric recently purchased a controlling stake in Operation Technology / ETAP Automation (“ETAP”).
Safety best practices
Surge protective devices (SPD) must be sized correctly. The new interactive Surge Protective Device Selection Guide from Littelfuse is easy to use and offers customers an interactive calculator that quickly provides the right SPD size to maximize surge protection for their systems. Knowledge of the reference to ground and the type of voltage present is needed.
“If SPDs are sized too low, the system could be susceptible to temporary overvoltages or cause a decrease in the life expectancy of the SPD. If they are sized too high, it may not provide adequate protection, which could damage the equipment in the event of a surge,” explains Richard Dale, associate product manager at Littelfuse Industrial Business.
Each time the National Electric Code (NEC) and related standards change, it presents an opportunity to revisit and improve upon existing worker protections. Graybar takes a holistic, product-agnostic approach to electrical safety. With help from this distributor, plants can find and mitigate electrical hazards by creating a tailored electrical safety plan that address the unique safety and compliance needs of the facility.
The use of arc flash studies and remediation, lockout tagout, personalized training, and Graybar’s wide range of available electrical safety products streamlines the electrical safety journey. Ensuring compliance avoids costly fines and the risk of harm to valued employees.
This story originally appeared in the August 2021 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.