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Posted 6/2/2016

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By Preston Chasteen

Tulsa District maintenance staff received arc flash electrical safety training, May 17-19.

The three day training event was held at the district office in Tulsa and was made up of classroom academics and hands-on training.

“The District is going through a challenging learning curve as we implement our District electrical safety programs,” said Mike Kerr, Tulsa District Safety and Occupational Health Manager. “These training sessions not only educate the workforce on electrical safety requirements, but also give us a better understanding of the unique electrical systems and challenges that exist in the field.”

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 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.

The first two days covered electrical safe work practices and the proper wear of personal protection equipment, as well as in-depth instruction of  National Fire Protection Association 70E, which is the consensus standard throughout the electrical industry.

The third day encompassed hands-on training and the ability to demonstrate safe work practices that were taught the first two days, including the simulated lockout of a 480 volt disconnect, utilizing 70E practices.

“70E is real big on not just knowing, but also being able to demonstrate that you understand how to perform the task,” said the course instructor, Wayne Rivers, from National Technology Transfer. “When we’re done here, I want these folks to have enough knowledge to take a copy of 70E and find the answer, should they run into a problem in the field.”

Arc flash is a recognized hazard, and OSHA mandates that employees must be protected from all recognized hazards.

“In my opinion the Tulsa District is way ahead of other corps of engineers, they’ve really gotten ahold of the importance of this training and they are running with it,” said Rivers.

“The District is investing a lot of resources to analyze our electrical systems. Train our workforce, and provide personal protective equipment.” said Kerr.

“When all managers and employees are well trained in electrical safety and NFPA 70E, the risk of arc flash and electrical shock drops dramatically,” said Hank Farley, Chairman, Electrical Safety Working Group.  “NFPA 70E Arc Flash Training is essential for USACE to ensure every qualified and unqualified person understands the basic hazards involved with arc flash exposure for the types of equipment the employee will be working on or around in the workplace.”