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Arc Flash Labels: The Cornerstone Of Electrical Safety Compliance

by Busines Newswire
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Electrical systems harbor grave dangers for personnel in facilities across sectors. To reduce accident rates and adhere to safety codes, arc flash labels offer visual cautions and key details. A robust labeling program forms the bedrock of any electrical safety plan.

Arc flashes result when a wayward electrical current suddenly detonates into a burst of intense heat and energy. This explosion can inflict severe burns and other traumatic injuries. Arc flash labels help avert such crises by warning staff of particular hazards and advising proper safeguards for specific equipment. Vibrant labels placed prominently on equipment ensure these warnings stay at the top of people’s minds.

OSHA and NFPA 70E Standards

Installing and maintaining arc flash labels on high-voltage electrical equipment is mandated under occupational safety laws. OSHA’s electrical safety standards in 29 CFR 1910 Subpart S state that arc flash warning labels must be present wherever hazards exist that could result in injury due to arc flashes. This general requirement is reinforced by the more detailed criteria found in NFPA 70E standards.

Specifically, the 2015 edition of NFPA 70E contains extensive guidelines in Article 130.5 on the design, content, placement, and maintenance of arc flash label. Key specifications include:

Minimum label dimensions of 4×6 inches

Content including available arc fault current, arc flash boundary, incident energy levels, and required PPE categories.

  • Need for annual inspection and updating of labels.
  • Approval by a qualified engineer regarding label placement
  • Durability requirements for indoor vs. outdoor installation

Minimum label dimensions

Arc flash labels must meet specific size requirements as detailed in NFPA 70E standards. Sufficient surface area is needed to display all the vital content legibly. Common label dimensions are 4×6 inches or 5×7 inches. Larger equipment may necessitate bigger labels. Anything smaller than 4×6 inches will likely be difficult to read. Be sure to verify the appropriate label size based on the equipment being labeled.

Content such as arc flash boundaries, incident energy levels, PPE levels, and limited approach distances. The information presented on the label needs to cover certain safety-critical data points. 

Requirements for annual inspection and updating

Proper label installation and maintenance ensures facilities remain compliant with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and NFPA 70E protocols. Neglecting labels risks fines, shutdowns, and litigation.

Strategic Label Placement

Labels must be present on electrical equipment posing arc flash risks, including switchboards, panelboards, industrial control panels, meter socket enclosures, and motor control centers. Locate labels prominently to maximize visibility. Consider the flow of foot traffic and typical worker activities.

Quality and Durability

Arc flash labels contain vital safety information so must be durable and legible. Select high-quality, UL-rated materials designed to withstand weather, UV rays, abrasion, chemicals, and more. Avoid cheap labels that deteriorate prematurely.

Data Integrity

Accurate calculations performed by qualified engineers provide the values on each label. Labels should display the maximum available fault current, arc flash boundaries, incident energy levels, and PPE requirements specific to each piece of equipment. The integrity of data ensures optimal safety.


Electrical systems change frequently so labels require inspection annually and updating if any values are no longer valid. Outdated information compromises safety. Budgeting for regular label reviews and replacements is a best practice.

Arc flash labels act as continuous safety reminders for personnel working on or near equipment. They serve as the first line of defense against electrical hazards when properly implemented as part of a comprehensive safety strategy. Keeping labels current, compliant, and prominently placed enhances workplace safety.