The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to electrical safety education. The ESFI has declared May as National Electrical Safety Month, which makes it a great time to talk about the importance of arc flash awareness. According to ESFI, 2,000 workers go to burn centers for the treatment of severe arc flash burns each year.
Dangers of an arc flash
Arc flashes happen when a fault occurs in an electrical system. This causes an arc to form between two points of contact. The arc then burns through insulation materials and produces a flash of light that you can see from miles away. The heat produced by this explosion can reach temperatures up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause severe burns and injuries if it comes in contact with human skin or clothing.
The most dangerous part about arc flashes is that they often happen without warning or any type of visible sign that something is wrong. This makes them especially dangerous for untrained employees. If you don’t teach workers arc flash awareness, they won’t know how to handle these situations.
Arc flash awareness
These flashes can also damage equipment and cause fires that can lead to catastrophic results if not controlled quickly. Awareness is the key to preventing arc flash injuries or damage to equipment or other materials in your facility.
Here are some things to consider when dealing with the risk of arc flashes:
- Conduct a hazard and risk assessment for arc flashes
- Train employees in how to handle fuse failures or other electrical issues
- Use caution when working with high-voltage equipment like transformers or turbines.
- Do not wear loose clothing around high-voltage areas or near live wires.
- Don’t carry loose tools or objects near high-voltage lines.
- Avoid using ladders near electrical equipment; use scaffolding instead.
- Always test the ground with a voltmeter before beginning any work.
- If there is no ground connection, add one before proceeding with any work on that system.
- Never attempt to repair or replace energized equipment unless you have the proper training and certifications.
Armed with knowledge and the right equipment, arc flash protection can save lives and prevent injuries. Arc flash is a serious risk to anyone working around electricity. Knowing the risks and understanding how to stay safe will help avoid injuries and other incidents.