An industrial power plant at sunset

Power Plant Arc Flash Training

Do you need an Arc Flash Power Plant Training Program at your facility? Probably. The harder questions to answer usually include:

  • Who should be trained?
  • What type of electrical safety, power plant training should be used?
  • What should be covered in the training?
  • Are there retraining requirements?
  • Are there documentation requirements?

The NFPA defines Arc Flash as “an electrical explosion caused when the current passes through air between ungrounded conductors or between ungrounded conductors and grounded conductors.” In the last 10 years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 2,000 fatal and more than 24,000 non-fatal electrical injuries such as those sustained from an arc flash. The National Safety Council reports that electrical hazards like this cause nearly one fatality every single workday.

Obviously, the consequences of arc flash are devastating. Beyond the risk of personal injury and death, arc flashes can also lead to business disruption, costly damage to equipment and facilities, legal liability, increased insurance premiums, and hefty regulatory fines.

So even if NFPA 70A, Electrical Safety in the Workplace, did not specifically state that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide employees with training in the employer’s electrical safety-related work practices and procedures, power plant training would be an obvious tool in the arc flash prevention toolkit, along with such things as:

  • Creation of a facility electrical safety program
  • Calculating arc flash hazards for relevant equipment
  • Providing appropriate PPE
  • Providing appropriate tools
  • Placing warning labels on equipment that poses an arc flash risk
  • Maintaining accurate Single-Line Diagrams

Who should be trained?

Employees who work around—not just on—energized electrical equipment must be safety trained.

This obviously includes Qualified Persons, who are responsible for making decisions for job planning and personal protective equipment (PPE), but this also includes Unqualified Persons, who must be trained for their safety.

What type of electrical safety, power plant training should be used?

The preferable method of power plant training is via an instructor-led course.

NFPA 70E states that classroom training, on-the-job training, or a combination of both may be used. Web-based power plant training is generally not considered suitable due to lack of face-to-face interaction, the involvement of more work on the part of the employees, and, most importantly, the prevalence of low-quality programs with no accreditations. This means you train not only the persons, for example, responsible for racking out circuit breakers, but any helpers who are nearby in support roles.

What should be covered in the training?

Employees must be trained to understand the specific hazards associated with electrical energy. They should be trained in electrical safety-related work practices and procedural requirements, as necessary, to provide protection from the electrical hazards associated with their respective job or task assignments.

This includes:

  • Skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed energized electrical conductors and circuit parts from other parts of electrical equipment
  • Skills and techniques necessary to determine the nominal voltage of exposed energized electrical conductors and circuit parts
  • Approach distances and the corresponding voltages to which the qualified person will be exposed

Informative Annex E in NFPA 70E provides a good list of typical Electrical Safety Program Principles. The principles listed include:

  • Inspecting and evaluating the electrical equipment
  • Maintaining the electrical equipment’s insulation and enclosure integrity
  • Planning every job and documenting first-time procedures
  • De-energizing, if possible
  • Anticipating unexpected events
  • Identifying the electrical hazards and reducing the associated risk
  • Protecting employees from shock, burn, blast, and other hazards due to the working environment
  • Using the right tools for the job
  • Assessing people’s abilities
  • Identification of hazards and assessment of risks of the task
  • Limits of approach
  • Safe work practices
  • Use of Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Are there retraining requirements?


Retraining in electrical safety-related work practices and applicable changes to NFPA 70E should be performed at least every three years (the same interval as updates to NFPA 70E). This retraining must be documented. This not only provides a very valuable refresher, but allows updates and changes to NFPE 70E requirements to be presented and emphasized.

Are there documentation requirements?


The employer must document that each employee has received the required training. This documentation must:

  • Be made when the employee demonstrates proficiency in the work practices involved
  • Be retained for the duration of the employee’s employment
  • Contain the content of the training, each employee’s name, and dates of training

Employment records that indicate that an employee has received the required training are an acceptable means of meeting this requirement. The course syllabus or table of contents may be used to document the content of the training.

Additionally, facilities must conduct annual inspections to ensure each employee is complying with safety-related work practices. At least once every three years, facilities must audit their own electrical safety policy and power plant training programs to ensure compliance with the standards. The audits need to be documented. There is a new emphasis that hazard elimination should be the first priority in the implementation of safety-related work practices.