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The Shocking Truth about Arc Flash Hazards: What Facility Managers and Business Owners Need to Know

The Shocking Truth about Arc Flash Hazards: What Facility Managers and Business Owners Need to Know

By: Rob Parkhurst, RK Electrical Service Manager

An arc flash is a type of electrical explosion that occurs when electric current travels through the air between two conductors or a conductor and the ground. More specifically, the arc flash is the heat and light created by an electrically energized arc.

What Causes An Arc Flash?

  • Accidentally touching the wrong surface or dropping a tool
  • Sparks from breaks or gaps
  • Equipment failure from faulty installation or normal wear and tear
  • Dust, condensation or corrosion

What Are The Dangers?

Arc flash injuries can be violent and often cause serious injury and even death.

FIVE MOST COMMON DANGERS TO WORKERS

  • Being thrown to the ground, blown into a wall or off a ladder by large shock waves
  • Concussions that cause loss of memory or brain trauma
  • Ruptured eardrums due to the deafening blast can cause hearing loss
  • Receiving a strong shock by accidentally touching energized conductors
  • Skin burns caused by heat from the blast

Because of these dangers, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed specific approach boundaries designed to protect employees while working on or near energized equipment. The further from a potential blast that a worker is, the lesser chance they have of being severely injured.

Facility managers and safety teams should work together to explain risks to employees.

Qualified employees should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment, use insulated tools and follow safety precautions when performing work on electrical equipment. The overall most effective way to eliminate the risk of an arc flash is to de-energize equipment before working on it.

DANGERS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS

It is in the best interest of business owners to regularly maintain their equipment, continue safety training for employees and provide appropriate safety precautions for anyone working with electrical equipment. Some of the most common dangers for business owners resulting from an arc flash are:

  • Fire spreading throughout the building/property
  • Damage to nearby equipment due to flying objects from the blast
  • Extreme heat melting materials and equipment
  • Increased costs due to employee injuries and equipment damage

NFPA 70E Electrical Safety Compliance standards require building owners to complete an ARC flash risk assessment on the facility’s electrical distribution system to minimize the risk of arc flash, shock hazards and injuries. RK Electrical can conduct these complex studies and provide the reporting you need for safety compliance. Contact us at rkelectrical@rkmi.com to schedule a risk assessment.

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