Ferraz Shawmut, a leading circuit protection manufacturer, has contributed $500,000 to the research and testing initiative being conducted by the IEEE and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This program seeks to build a better understanding of arc flash hazards and how to protect electrical workers against them. In addition, Duke Energy Foundation and Salisbury each donated $50,000 each.

Total contributions to the multi-year, $6.5 million IEEE/NFPA Arc Flash Collaborative Research and Testing Project now stand at $1.9 million. Additional donations are being sought from electrical utilities, equipment manufacturers, professional associations, safety-related agencies, insurers and others concerned with the safety of electrical workers.

The need for the initiative is evident in the many reports on arc flash phenomena. The U.S. Department of Labor and Electricite de France, for instance, cite arc flash as causing an inordinate number of electrical worker deaths and serious injuries. One major corporation found that up to 80 percent of its electrical injuries involve thermal burns due to arcing faults.

"Since we have the 'protection of components, systems and the people who use them' at the heart of our mission statement, it is only natural we take a leading role in this important initiative," says Ken Hooper, senior vice president at Ferraz Shawmut. "We are thrilled to be part of this endeavor and look forward to contributing to its success in creating a safer industrial workplace. Our participation builds on years of research into arc flash phenomena. We are please that our prior work can contribute to this effort."

More than 2,000 test protocols are planned for the IEEE/NFPA Arc Flash Collaborative Research and Testing Project. These will create deeper insight into arc flash and arc blast phenomena as regards thermal energy, pressure and sound waves, shrapnel, the toxicity of gases released, and energy radiated at many wavelengths. It also will look at how enclosures affect the energy released in arcing faults.

The program will yield many dividends. Beyond improving worker safety, it will help employers become more efficient and productive and lower workers compensation claims and premiums. Insurance carriers should see fewer claims for injuries and property damage. The information developed also will help electrical equipment and personal protective equipment manufacturers create better products.

Data from the project will enable the IEEE to expand IEEE 1584, Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations, which helps designers and operators determine arc flash hazard distance and energy exposure. Similarly, it will help NFPA enhance NFPA 70E, "Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace", which offers guidelines in areas such as training, hazard evaluation, work conditions and personal protective clothing.

In addition to Ferraz Shawmut, other major contributors to the project are Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) and Bruce Power, each of which gave $500,000, and Hydro One Networks, which gave $250,000.

Those interested in learning more about or contributing to the IEEE/NFPA Arc Flash Collaborative Research and Testing Project should contact either Sue Vogel at IEEE (732-562-3817, s.vogel@ieee.org) or Mark Earley at NFPA (617-984-7400, mwearley@nfpa.org). A prospectus on the project is available online at http://standards.ieee.org/esrc/arcflash/index.html.