An electric arc flash can cause serious injury or death — check out tips on what to do

by Brianna Crandall — August 4, 2017 — Clarion Safety Systems, a designer and manufacturer of safety signs and safety labels, shares insight on the new, standardized symbol for arc flash hazards in the latest issue of In Compliance Magazine, a leading resource for electrical engineering professionals.

An arc flash, according to OSHA, 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.”

Along with understanding an arc flash’s potential hazards and calculating risk, using appropriate labeling on electrical equipment is critical, says Clarion. Proper safety labels allow workers to be more informed about risks and precautions to avoid arc flash incidents. Graphical symbols are an important part of product safety labels and workplace safety signs in order to effectively communicate safety messages. Symbols bring added noticeability to the safety label or sign, and help to communicate the message across language barriers.

Until very recently, according to Clarion’s July In Compliance article, there was no internationally standardized graphical symbol available for indicating arc flash explosion hazards. For years, the ISO 7010 symbol for “Warning; Electricity” has commonly been used for arc flash. That is now changing.

Clarion's arc flash safety label

Arc flash safety label from Clarion Safety Systems using the new arc flash symbol (photo: Clarion)

According to Clarion, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is in the process of registering a specific symbol meaning “To warn of an arc flash.” This new, standardized arc flash symbol was approved by ISO in December 2016 and will appear in an amendment to ISO 7010 Graphical Symbols — Safety Colours And Safety Signs — Registered Safety Signs.

According to the article, when it comes to communicating safety information on a product safety label or facility safety sign, the more specific to the situation the symbol can be, the better the chance of communicating the intended message to the intended audience.

According to Angela Lambert, director of Standards Compliance at Clarion:

The new arc flash symbol better communicates the hazard at hand than the symbol for electricity or other similar symbols. It provides a clear distinction for arc flash hazards.

The article goes on to explain practical tips for engineers and other workplace safety professionals on how to apply the new symbol.

Lambert continued:

At Clarion, we’ve updated our label and sign designs to use the newly standardized arc flash symbol. We strongly encourage our clients to replace existing labels and signs with ones that incorporate the new ISO symbol and to use only the new designs moving forward. This will aid global acceptance and understanding of the new symbol, causing heightened awareness of potential arc flash hazards in the workplace.

In Compliance delivers the latest news, standards updates, technical explanations and guidance for engineers, and Clarion provides insight for the magazine’s “On Your Mark” series. A regular column for six years, “On Your Mark” discusses the best practices and cutting-edge trends in product safety labeling.

The full article, “A New Symbol for Added Safety: Arc Flash,” is available through the In Compliance Magazine Web site. To learn more about the latest developments in product safety labeling, visit Clarion’s online safety label Learning Center or watch its short, educational videos on “Effective Safety Symbols, Signs and Labels” and “ISO Symbols for Safety Signs and Labels.” Clarion also offers safety label assessments, where they work with companies to evaluate their labels, including reviewing the latest OSHA, ANSI and ISO standards.

Clarion Safety Systems offers a full range of standard and custom visual safety products including machinery safety labels, environmental and facility safety signs, pipe and valve identification markings, lockout/tagout products, and safety-grade photoluminescent egress path-marking escape systems. Founded in 1990, the company continues to play a leading role in the development and writing of international and national standards for safety signs, labels and markings.