Arc Flash Injuries Are Mostly From Preventable Electrical Accidents

By R.W. Hurst, Editor

Arc Flash Injuries

Arc flash injuries are preventable these days, especially if companies are committed to properly design there electrical protection systems and also making certain their employees are properly training and phyisically protected from these occurances.

These accidents can result in a slow, painful death. But even when they aren't fatal, they can do severe damage to different body systems. Hot gases can injure the lungs and therefore impair breathing. Even curable burns can result in painful skin and tissue that can take weeks or months to heal. The following are a few photos of typical workers who have been injured. These injuries from an arc flash event can even include hearing loss. To prevent injury, workers are trained to wear personal protective equipment ppe.

Wounds and fatalities are caused each year by arc flash incidents which involve explosions resulting in burn injury. It persents numerous dangers to electrical workers due to the extremely intense high-level heat generated in an arc flash explosion and the pressure wave from an arc blast incident. The electrical industry is continuously working to advance the level of knowledge and understanding of these accidents. The best protection is for employers and workers to decide that they will not work on energized electrical equipment.

The development of NFPA 70E has provided a national work practice standard to deal with the potential for hazard. This, along with OSHA law, is an effort to decrease the number of accidents that occur as a result of an electrical arc flash and electric shock via electrical conductor. Some recent advances have caused forward movement in safety and increased knowledge and understanding in this area.

Arc flash occurs all too often. Somewhere between 5-10 arc flash explosions occur in electric equipment every day in the United States, according to recent statistics compiled by a research and consulting firm that specializes in preventing workplace burns and deaths. The total number doesn't even include cases in which the victim is sent to an ordinary hospital or clinic for medical treatment. Unreported accidents and “near misses” are estimated to be many times this number. Instead, these accidents are so severe the victims require treatment from a special burn center.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun to aggressively monitor compliance with passage of the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) 70E standard. In addition, electrical inspectors across the country are now enforcing a new labeling requirements set forth in the National Electrical Code (NEC). These requirements, along with guidelines published recently by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in IEEE Standard 1584, Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations, help facilities personnel calculate the hazards of explosions in different types of equipment in various power systems because of short circuits and arcing fault. What has emerged from this three-pronged approach is a new set of generally accepted best practices for preventing accidents in the workplace.

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