Electricity is widely recognized as a serious workplace hazard, exposing employees to electric shock, electrocution, burns, fires, and explosions. Working on or around electric conductors and equipment can be particularly dangerous because electric energy cannot be sensed until contact is made.

Each year many employees suffer pain, injuries, and death from such accidents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 289 employees, or nearly one a day, were killed by contact with electric current in 2002. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH), burns are the most common injury caused by electricity.

This paper addresses electric arc flash, what causes it, how to mitigate it, and how OSHA expects employers to protect employees from its effects. It also provides guidance about how OSHA might use NFPA 70E, the National Fire Protection Association's Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace in enforcement activities. Finally, this paper represents the views of the author, is not an OSHA policy document, and does not necessarily reflect the views of OSHA.

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