Arc flash is a dangerous type of electrical accident caused when current jumps between voltage levels in an unintended way. The result is a powerful explosion that can lead to serious consequences. These are five important things to know about arc flash:
Human Error Is the Most Common Cause of Arc Flash
Some estimates say that about two-thirds of all arc flash accidents are caused by human error. The most common of these situations is when a worker doesn’t follow the protocol for ensuring equipment isn’t carrying a charge. When most people make a mistake at their job, they can just fix it. Arc flash doesn’t give you a second chance. This is an unfortunate reality of working with electrical equipment.
While mistakes on the worker’s part—either due to fatigue or simple oversight—are the most prevalent causes for arc flash, there are several other factors that can lead to it. Faulty components are another major risk. It’s important for enterprises to update any equipment that doesn’t adhere to OSHA standards. You can easily get any replacement parts from a company like Schneider Electric, which will help reduce the likelihood of arc flash.
Arc Flash Can Generate Temperatures Hotter Than the Surface of the Sun
Some people simply don’t understand the magnitude of an arc flash explosion. Electrical shock actually isn’t the primary danger of arc flash; burns are. On average, there’s more than one death every day associated with arc flash burns in the United States. Thousands are injured every year by these burns.
Arc flash is capable of creating incredible heat. In some cases, it has peaked at over 30,000 degrees Fahrenheit. To give you some perspective, the surface of the sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
You Need to Wear Special Clothing to Protect Against Arc Flash
Based on the previous point, it’s pretty obvious you don’t want to enter a situation where arc flash might occur wearing shorts and flip-flops. It’s essential for people working on electrical equipment to wear arc flash-protective clothing.
Even though having the proper clothes can help prevent burns, it doesn’t protect workers from all the dangers of arc flash. Hearing loss is a major concern in these accidents, as well as projectiles coming from the explosion area. It’s important for everyone within the immediate area of a potential arc flash site to take precaution.
Several Arc Flash Accidents Happen Every Day in the United States
Arc flash isn’t some once-in-a-lifetime event that you don’t really need to take seriously. This phenomenon happens multiple times every day in the U.S. All organizations that use electrical equipment need to consider the risks of arc flash.
The potential damage caused by arc flash can be devastating to individuals and organizations alike. Severe burns, broken bones, deafness, blindness, and death are all possible with arc flash. Even in the fortunate circumstances where no one is hurt in an arc flash explosion, it can still cause massive damage to equipment.
Arc Flash Is Almost Always Preventable
As mentioned earlier, human error is the most common culprit of arc flash accidents. While this can seem like a negative thing, there’s actually a positive element to it. Since mistakes are by far the most-cited reason for arc flash, there are steps that can be taken in order to reduce the likelihood of these incidents.
Better training for workers is one of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of arc flash. Make sure anyone working on electrical equipment has a thorough understanding of how to avoid an accident. Fatigue is one of the elements that leads to human error. Implementing protocol that limits workers from having to get into situations where they’re prone to making mistakes can help mitigate arc flash. It’s also management’s role to stay on top of updating and replacing equipment as necessary.
No one wants to deal with arc flash or its aftermath. But this is just a reality when it comes to working with electrical systems. Knowing more about arc flash, however, can help to lower its occurrence.