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Multiple methods exist for helping you determine the content of arc flash labels. Some companies choose to use software to calculate incident energy, some consult the calculations in the appendices of the NFPA 70E, some refer to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) guide—IEEE 1584-2002: Guide for Performing Arc Flash Calculations—and others hire electrical engineering firms to assist them. Any of these methods is acceptable.
It is the employer’s responsibility, though, to make sure labels are created and put in the appropriate locations. More than one option exists for obtaining these arc flash hazard labels.
The three most common options are:
- Order labels from a safety company
- Print your own labels from an inkjet or laser printer
- Print your own labels using a thermal transfer printer (recommended)
Ordering Arc Flash Labels
For companies with a limited need for arc flash labels, ordering these labels from a catalog or website can be a viable option. Some companies allow you to customize the information that will be printed on your labels, while others provide pre-designed labels with blank spaces where you can write in the incident energy, PPE, and other information specific to your facility.
Printing Paper Arc Flash Labels
Another option for creating arc flash labels is to utilize an existing inkjet or LaserJet printer to print labels onto standard paper.
The obvious downside to this is the durability of paper labels. Paper may not hold up well to the elements in an industrial worksite, and that could leave your facility open to safety and compliance problems as time goes by. Ink on paper exposed to UV can also fade, and depending on the print method, these labels can wear very easily with contact.
Some of these downfalls can be mitigated by protecting the labels with heavy-duty plastic sleeves or other protective means, but this is often difficult to do with smaller labels.
Printing Arc Flash Labels with a Thermal Transfer Printer
Thermal transfer printers connect to any PC but are different than inkjet or LaserJet printers in that instead of laying ink on top of a paper surface, thermal transfer printers work by heating a print ribbon resin and thermally bonding it to a material, usually an industrial vinyl. Using this method, you create weatherproof labels capable of lasting many years—even outdoors—without fading, smearing, or wearing away.
To print arc flash labels, select a label supply that allows you to create labels with a WARNING header. Label supplies are available that come with pre- printed headers, if you would like to go that route.
Any thermal transfer printer capable of printing arc flash labels should also have the functionality to save labels so you can print them again later on or update them as needed.
By far, the most ideal option for creating arc flash labels is using a thermal transfer printer. Because of the superior lifespan of these labels and the low cost per label, having a thermal transfer printer in-house ends up being the easiest and most cost-effective way to create these labels, especially if you need to create a lot of them.
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