OSHA Arc Flash Requirements 2020 – OSHA 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart S Electrical and NFPA 70E 2018 now updated to NFPA 70E 2021 “Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.”

What is Arc Flash?

Simply put, an arc flash is a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to ground. The results are often violent and when a human is in close proximity to the arc flash, serious injury and even death can occur.

Each of the following can be responsible for causing an Arc flash accident:

• Dust
• Dropping tools
• Accidental touching
• Condensation
• Material failure
• Corrosion

Faulty Installation Three factors determine the severity of an arc flash injury:

• Proximity of the worker to the hazard
• Temperature
• Time for circuit to break

Due to the amount of energy being transferred from the equipment to the individual, Arc Flash Accidents are violent. As you can imagine, injuries due to arc flash exposure are serious – even resulting in death. It’s not uncommon for an injured employee to never regain their past quality of life. For this and other reasons, many insurance companies are requiring strict compliance with NFPA 70e 2021 standards.

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Typical Results from an Arc Flash:

• Heat (upwards of 35,000 degrees F)
• Sound Blast (noise can reach 140 dB – as loud as a gun)
• Flying objects (often molten metal)
• Blast pressure (upwards of 2,000 lbs. / sq.ft)
• Fire (could spread rapidly through building)
• Burns (Non FR clothing can burn onto skin)

Approach Boundaries

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed specific approach boundaries designed to protect employees while working on or near energized equipment. NFPA 70e 2021 requirements need to be reviewed for OSHA Arc Flash Requirements.

The boundaries are:

• Prohibited Approach (inner boundary)
• Restricted Approach
• Limited Approach
• Flash Protection Boundary (outer boundary)

Who is a Qualified Worker?

In an effort to limit electrical injuries in the workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has passed law that only allows a “Qualified” person to work on or around energized circuits or equipment.

Qualified person: One who has received training in and has demonstrated skills and knowledge in the construction and operation of electric equipment and installations and the hazards involved.

Whether an employee is considered to be a qualified person will depend upon various circumstances in the workplace. For example, it is possible and, in fact, likely for an individual to be considered “qualified” with regard to certain equipment in the workplace, but “unqualified” as to other equipment…

Qualified persons (i.e. those permitted to work on or near exposed energized parts) shall, at a minimum, be trained in and familiar with the following:

• The skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electric equipment.
• The skills and techniques necessary to determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts, and
• The clearance distances specified in 1910.333(c) and the corresponding voltages to which the qualified person will be exposed.


OSHA Arc Flash Requirements – The training required by this section shall be of the classroom or on-the-job type. The degree of training provided should be determined by the exposure of risk to the employee. We offer arc flash training that ranges from an entry-level engineer to those in charge of facility safety (Train the Trainer Arc Flash Training).

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