How Arc Flash Training Empowers Workers to Make Safer Choices

Spread the love

Electrical arcing is when electricity jumps from one connection point to another, causing a prolonged electrical discharge. Not all electrical arcs are undesired. When they are controlled to a restricted location and measured amount of energy, electrical arcs can be used in arc lamps, welding equipment, and plasma cutting machines.

Then there are arc flashes – a sudden release of electrical energy due to a fault in an electrical system, resulting in an explosive burst of light and heat. Arc flashes are extremely dangerous, and can burn, perforate, and even kill nearby personnel. Arc flashes occur when electrical currents stray from their intended paths, often due to equipment failure, human error, or environmental factors. Arc flashes are incredibly dangerous in multiple ways, and it is important to understand how.

Have you ever seen an incandescent light bulb burn out? The flash right before it goes dark is (a very small) arc flash. Large arc flashes can be incredibly hot, reaching as high as 35,000°F (19,400°C) at the arc terminal points. For comparison, stainless steel melts at around 2750°F (1510°C), diamonds melt at 8132°F (4500°C), and the temperature at the surface of the sun is approximately 10,000°F (5600°C). You read that right. Arc flashes can be more than three times hotter than the surface of the sun. 

An arc flash creates a supersonic pressure wave, called an arc blast, with up to thousands of pounds per square inch of pressure. Shrapnel carried by an arc blast can lance through the bodies of people nearby, and molten metal can be sprayed at high speed in all directions.  

In light of these dangers, it is clear that proper safety precautions are essential in any environment where arc flashes might occur. But standard protective gear and engineering controls are not enough. The most important aspect of arc flash safety is the education of all staff who work with and around electrical equipment.

If you need to learn more about arc flash video, you can visit the site.

Implementing Effective Electrical Safety Training

In the United States, the standard for workplace electrical safety. It provides a set of guidelines and policies to protect workers working on or near electrical equipment from electrical hazards. Because the dangers from arc flashes include electrical, heat, and physical (shockwave) hazards, the NFPA 70E safety protocols are comprised of a range of methods and approaches for employers and employees to minimize the risk of electrical accidents, emphasizing the importance of proper training, hazard assessments, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate dangers. Compliance with NFPA 70E ensures a safer work environment and reduces the likelihood of electrical injuries and fatalities.

For employers, arc flash safety training can be comprised of classroom instruction, video or in-person demonstrations of arc flashes, and drills that cover proper handling procedures. The key is that employee awareness of the dangers does not lapse. Training should also emphasize emergency response protocols and procedures for mitigating hazards in cases where accidents or equipment failures do occur.