This is a service announcement to inform about the “arc flash” and why the Arc Flash Hazard Analysis should be included in your electrical safety management program.
It has been estimated that “arc flashes” occur in electrical equipment five to ten times per day in the U.S. Recent data shows there are 30,000 arc flash incidents, 7000 burn injuries, 2000 hospitalizations, and approximately 400 arc flash related deaths per year – according to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN), a magazine focused on workplace safety for environmental health and safety professionals.
An arc flash – the bright light and intense heat – created due to an electrical fault, or “arc fault” – is the result of a rapid release of energy, and while it can occur almost anywhere there is a fault in electrical current, it most often occurs at a circuit breaker connection.
An event like this emits enough heat to register over 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or almost four times hotter than the surface of the Sun – most clothing can ignite at temperatures from 750°F to 1470°F. This can present safety concerns for workers in the field, with approximately 80% of all fatalities due to burns, not shock.
By Glenn Eglinton and Bob Dietzel, ARM, CIC.