Arc Flash Labeling Setback

By Staff February 1, 2006

Going into hearings last month for proposed revisions to the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code, our correspondent discovered much anticipation about new requirements for arc flash hazards, particularly mandatory labeling on electrical equipment regarding incident energy.

A number of manufacturers, notably Square D, have already taken steps toward this end. But in preliminary committee balloting of the 2008 NEC, in Hiltonhead, S.C., these more rigorous requirements for labeling flash hazard suffered a significant loss of support. According to Mike Anthony, P.E., a senior electrical engineer with Architectural and Engineering Services at the University of Michigan, and a member of the panel considering the code change, the proposal was defeated seven to one and incident energy labeling will remain as spelled out in the 2005 code cycle. “While the hazard remains, the future of the flash hazard consulting industry may be in doubt,” he said.

In other 2008 NEC proposals, Anthony reported there are new developments concerning the definition of “enclosure.” As it stands now, “enclosure” can mean a room, vault, a housed area, a caged fenced area or a closet. “Changes to the 2008 NEC will improve understanding and use of this term and the outcome may affect the way electrical engineers and architects work together to fit switchgear into new and existing buildings,” said Anthony.

Elsewhere, the first committee has been selected to explore NEC Article 585, which was approved in October 2005. The intent of the article, according to Anthony, is to guide the installation of critical and emergency systems for homeland security. He said its influence may be seen as early as in the 2008 edition of the NEC.