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Dangerous Arc Flash

Dangerous Arc Flash
Can you imagine yourself hit by a bolt of lightning? Arc flash is like lightening which can unexpectedly release tremendous amount of energy which may result in serious injury or even death. If there is a short circuit or electric fault in energized equipment then it creates Arc flash. Current flows through the air which creates electric arc, much like the phenomenon of lightening. These electrical dangers are present in the myriad of circumstances which do not require any storm conditions to manifest of like a lightening.

Data shows that above 80% is electrically related injuries involve some types of arc flash. They can be caused by range of various factors that includes; carelessness, equipment malfunctions, dropped tools, inadequate safety procedures etc. Any amount of the energy released by the electrical arc depends on the total amount of electrical current flowing through the arc and on how long this current will flow before it gets interrupted by a fuse or circuit breaker.

The amount of radiation released in an arc flash light can be so intense and fast that it can within no time burn skin and ignite clothing. Temperatures at the electric arc can climb rapidly to tens of thousands of degrees. Extreme metal turns to liquid, vaporizes and the air surrounding the arc becomes superheated. Together the superheated air and metal vapor expands with explosive force. This creates potential and dangerous lethal pressure wave of hot gas, solid metal shards and molten metal droplets which can possibly create burns and give wounds.

OSHA requires the employers to assess their workplace for any kind of arc flash hazards present or that are likely to be present. For assessment standards have been developed by The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to address flash hazards.

Like other government agencies, OSHA expects employers to keep updated with regulations and also to take necessary step to compliant. It also doesn’t walk the employers through the steps of setting up an effective safety program. This simply means workers can be exposed to arc flash hazards because of the ignorance of the employer of regulatory requirements and is operating based on misconception. Therefore, employer should be well aware of the OSHA and its programs to ensure safety to its employees.