Every year, dozens of workers are injured in arc flash incidents from overloaded electrical equipment. These explosions happen instantly with pressure that can cause deafness or blindness and a fireball that can cause devastating injuries and even death. The pressure is so intense from these flashes that injury to those around the blast can result from flying, molten debris. The risk of arc flash incidents can be significantly decreased by taking recommended safety precautions and wearing protective gear.
According to an IEEE report, electric arc burns are responsible for the majority of the injuries from electrical malfunctions. The arc’s incredibly high temperatures, about four times that of the surface of the sun, can cause fatal burns within five feet and major burns within just ten feet.
It is the responsibility of both employers and their employees to do their best to create a workplace for electrical workers that is not just safer but puts in place the best possible processes and procedures that are fully understood, practiced and enforced for optimal results.
Employers are required to do several things Arc Flash Assessment Service near me help ensure their employees stay safe on the job. They must:
– Conduct an analysis of their workplaces to assess risks for arc flashes.
– Safety train employees.
– Create safe zones or boundaries for workers to protect them from flash and shock.
– Provide employees with protective clothing and equipment that meets government standards.
– Label equipment susceptible to arc flashes upon failure.
Other precautions that can be taken include:
– Limiting the fault current with devices that improve grounding and bring the current down to no more than 5 amps, faults have nowhere to go and extinguish. This also disables multi-phase faults.
– Setting protective devices for lower target controls during maintenance periods.
– Avoiding the use of people altogether for very high-risk work. By using non-human operators, the risk to people is almost completely eliminated. However, some work requires people and not robots to be completed properly if it is a highly-complex operation.
While many standards groups working together to keep the workforce safe (OSHA, IEEE, NFPA) and have made great strides in standardizing safety procedure, it’s still not possible to eliminate all arc flash incidents. Employees in high-risk jobs must be vigilant about their surroundings and regularly monitor their equipment for faults. Through both assessment and arc resistant technologies, worker safety continues to improve.