The Reliability Files


Reducing Arc-Flash Risks With Infrared Inspection Windows

Electrical accidents happen daily. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation, International, each year, 2000 workers in the United States are admitted to burn centers for treatment of severe arc-flash burns. While the threat of shock and electrocution from contact with energized parts has long been recognized, arc-flash and arc-blast hazards have only recently been incorporated into electrical safety standards. Fortunately, there are steps that companies and individuals can take to reduce the occurrence of these incidents and protect all concerned from the physical, financial and statutory consequences. 


In the U.S., the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides a reference for facilities to meet the requirements of electrical workplace safety in its regulation 70E, and outlines the best practices for setting up and maintaining an Electrical Preventative Maintenance (EPM) program in its regulation 70B.

Proper diagnosis and remedial action of these situations have helped prevent numerous major losses. Thermographic electrical inspections are relatively inexpensive to use considering the savings often realized by preventing equipment damage and business interruptions. Additionally, electrical inspections can be used to evaluate previous repair work and proof-test new electrical installations and new equipment still under warranty.

IRISS IR windows eliminate the risks associated with live inspections as they allow an IR camera direct line-of-site access to live electrical components without opening an electrical enclosure. IRISS IR windows incorporate a specialty lens (typically made of a polymer or crystal) which allows the infrared wavelengths to transmit through the optic, ultimately to be captured and interpreted by an infrared imager or camera. IRISS Infrared windows can be installed in the covers or doors of electrical distribution equipment such as switchgear, transformers, MCCs, PDU panels and motor-termination boxes, to name a few. 

Because IRISS IR windows let thermographers perform inspections while leaving the panel covers and doors closed, they’re not exposed to energized conductors and circuit parts. The state of the cabinet interior isn’t changed, and the hazard/risk level is the same as if the thermographer were simply looking through a fixed viewing pane or taking a reading from a meter.

Ultimately, by utilizing this type of closed-panel inspection process, companies will eliminate 99% of arc-flash triggers during an infrared electrical inspection. Or, as stated in NFPA 70E: “Under normal operating conditions, enclosed energized equipment that has been properly installed and maintained is not likely to pose an arc-flash hazard.”

Return On Investment
NFPA 70B is a standard for implementing an effective Electrical Preventive Maintenance (EPM) program designed to reduce hazard to life and property resulting from the failure or malfunction of electrical systems and equipment.  A well-administered EPM program reduces accidents, save lives and minimizes costly breakdowns and unplanned shutdowns of equipment.

Benefits of IRISS IR Windows... 

  • Asset protection: Equipment lasts longer and performs better.
  • Risk management: Protect against accidents, lost production and loss of profit.
  • Energy conservation: Maintained equipment operates more efficiently and utilizes less energy.
  • Uptime and profitability increased: Reduced interruption of production, better workmanship and increased productivity.
  • Improved employee morale and reduced absenteeism.
  • Insurance-cost reduction: Due to the alternative high cost of inadequate maintenance.

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