An ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis, operating efficiencies and cost savings, as well as all relevant safety standards, such as those from NFPA, ANSI, RIA, IEC, ISO and OSHA. About J.B. Titus.
Machine Safety: NFPA 70E and international requirements
January 30, 2012
Machine Safety has several different focused areas of potential hazards. One of the areas getting a lot of attention is Arc Flash and NFPA 70E. A recent article on control panel safety published by Control Engineering earlier this month had some startling results. An alarming 72% of respondents (302) “always” plus “mostly” regularly violate NFPA 70E while working on control panels.
Ouch – this is amazing! And, there are a few more amazing realities in my opinion.
In my experience it’s mainly the large companies that are most compliant with safe work practices and standards like NFPA 70E. Is that your experience also?
And another amazing reality – have any of you seen arc flash regulations in any of the international standards like IEC or ISO? In all these years I can’t recall coming across any international safety requirements similar to NFPA 70E. Aren’t they missing the boat? Let’s assume for the moment that most of the respondent comments in the Control Engineering article are representative of the whole. Then perhaps a slightly different approach needs to be considered where industry can more easily comply with the regulations and provide safety for the employees. Assuming this projection is entirely possible, why wouldn’t the international body of safety experts writing safety standards have already accomplished this more easily compliant approach? Is there something striking by its international absence?
Your comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Click on the following text if you don't see a comments box, then scroll down: Machine Safety: NFPA 70E and international requirements
Contact: www.jbtitus.com for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.
For more than 30 years, J.B. Titus has advised a wide range of clients on machine functional safety solutions, including Johnson + Johnson, Siemens, General Motors, Disney, Rockwell Automation, Bridgestone Firestone, and Samsung Heavy Industries. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Oklahoma University in industrial management and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University in marketing and finance. He is a professional member of the American Society of Safety Engineers and is OSHA-certified in machine guarding. Titus is also TUV-certified as a Functional Safety Expert and serves on several American National Standards Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and National Electrical Manufacturers Association national safety and health standards committees. Reach him at jb(at)jbtitus.com and via www.jbtitus.com.
Wednesday, 27-06-12 16:21
Mr. Titus: You are correct that the IEC world (most of the rest of the world) does not address this [machine safety] the way we do in the U.S. and Canada. A case could be made that some equipment built to IEC standards is somewhat less prone to the initiation of arcing faults because of barriering over live parts. However the accidents still do happen. Oddly there is a lot of interest in NFPA 70E globally. I remember a webinar on arc flash I did for Plant Engineering (Virtual Manufacturing Summit) a couple of years ago had a very large turnout (several thousand) but what impressed me most was they came from over 70 countries. That tells me there is interest in what we are doing here.
And safety violations (by machine operators) on machine control panels are very very common. OEM manufacturers are beginning to design the machine control panels with some safety in mind, like door mounted resets for PLCs, and isolation barriers to isolate the control voltages from the higher machine voltage. This is a good thing, but training the operators is very important as well. Most OEM machine control panel builders are from Europe so they also don't get it.
Thursday, 16-02-12 13:45
Amazing is right. Considering the fact that so many remain defiant in using PPE the next best thing is perhaps removing the need to enter the control panel in the first place. An interface connector like the ones we make at Mencom avoid the hazard all together. In the related blog post from the anonymous Tom regarding not following NFPA rules, the interface (Ethernet & GFCI) is used for PLC testing and maintenance...clearly a step in the right direction.