Top 10 Astonishing Facts about Arc Flash
An arc flash is a dangerous release of energy from an electrical system. An arc flash event can cause death or serious injury, so it’s important for those working in areas where arc flash is possible to know how to work safely. This infographic, called “10 Astonishing Facts about Arc Flash,” illustrates important facts about the dangers of arc flash. It can be used in the workplace to start discussions about this electrical hazard or shared with colleagues to spread the word about arc flash.
While many people are more familiar with electric shock hazards than arc flash hazards, arc flashes are pretty common. As the infographic states, 5 to 10 arc explosions occur in electric equipment in the U.S. daily, and many of these events send people to the hospital. Annually, over 2000 people are treated for arc flash injuries in burn centers.
Arc flashes are the result of arc faults, which occur when an electric current leaves its designed path. This can occur because of worn insulation, condensation on wires, rodents interfering with wiring, and anything else that interrupts the normal flow of electricity. The energy of the arc flash travels to ground or from one conductor to another through air. When this happens, people in the vicinity can be severely burned. They can also be thrown to the ground by the pressure of the arc event – called the arc blast – or suffer hearing damage because of the corresponding sound.
Electrical arcs can reach temperatures up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is four times hotter than the surface of the sun. Those temperatures vaporize materials at the blast site and can cause molten metal to fly through the air. They can also set clothing on fire, even if it’s 10 feet away from the blast. The sound magnitude can reach 140dB, which is as loud as a jet engine and can cause instant hearing damage.
To protect people from arc flash, businesses must label electrical devices according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E standard. These labels include information about required personal protective equipment (PPE), the nominal system voltage, and the arc flash boundary, which is the location where a person could receive curable second-degree burns during an arc flash. Businesses should consult the NFPA for details about obtaining this information.
Common types of PPE used to protect people from an arc flash include arc-rated clothing, face shields, leather gloves and footwear, safety goggles, hearing protection, and balaclavas. In some cases, full arc-rated suits are required to perform work on live equipment. It’s important to remember that flame-resistant clothing isn’t enough to protect people from an arc flash; arc-rated clothing is necessary. Businesses should assess the specific arc flash hazards in their facilities to determine what levels of protection are needed.
This arc flash infographic lists 10 facts about arc flash hazards that will catch people’s attention. These facts can help educate people about this dangerous electrical event and prompt discussions about what businesses can do to prevent an arc flash from occurring and protect people from one if work must be performed on live electrical equipment.