How To Prevent Arc Flash Accidents
It’s important to know the degree of danger that comes with arc flash accidents. If one understands its dangers, then one will realize the value of arc flash safety. An arc flash accident is the outcome of a fast and sudden release of energy. It’s an electrical explosion that flashes from an exposed live conductor to another conductor. Sometimes, the flash hits the ground. Arc flash safety is important because even if arc flash accidents happen very quickly, they emit large amounts of electricity and heat. It’s enough to wreck the apparatus involved. Worse, these accidents can cause severe injuries that can be permanent. Or, it can bring about death. Death by an arc flash accident is a slow but extremely painful process. To avoid being caught in this situation, one must know the principles and rules of arc flash safety before going near high voltage equipment or facilities. Training and education of those affected is an important part of any electrical safety training program.
Prevention of arc flash accidents is just as important as safety. This is why members of your staff that deal with electrical equipment need to learn how to prevent arc flash accidents. Why pour all efforts on dealing with arc flash safety in the aftermath when it can be prevented too?
People, especially workers in an electrical plant, must realize that doors that are closed or covered panels are not enough to provide safety from arc flash. They need to move beyond this knowledge. Also, the must know that arc flash safety does not only deal with the dangers of extreme heat and light. The electrical explosion can spew out fragments and pieces of sharp and molten materials, electromagnetic energy, and plasma. Therefore, arc flash safety procedures must cover the possibilities of being exposed to these risks as well.
Arc flash safety regulations must include the implementation of personal protective equipment. Those who are exposed to the risks of arc flash accidents must wear clothing with at least an arc rating of 4 cal/cm2. Arch flash safety regulations also require layering garments to go with this, such as an arc flash suit and coveralls. Necessary accessories include safety glasses, face shields, gloves, and hard hats. This protective equipment must pass the arc flash safety standards that are required.
Another important arc flash safety procedure is maintaining an electrically safe working environment. This means that workers should assume that all the electrical devices around are energized before working on them. Arc flash safety standards require workers to test every single circuit and conductor before working on them. They must be de-energized before maintenance or repair work. De-energizing is a critically dangerous task that requires all the arc flash safety rules to be implemented.
A lockout/tagout program is important in arc flash safety. Every institution that works with electrical equipment should establish a training program for the lockout tagout devices as part of arc flash safety. Installing lockout devices to prevent re-energizing at the wrong time requires skilled workers. It’s the similar concept for tagging devices that cannot be touched. Arc flash safety requires the lockout/tagout procedures to be synchronized with other onsite procedures.
Arc flash safety procedures still cover the actual accidents. If a worker is injured by the accident, do not touch the victim with your bare hands or a highly conductive material at all costs. Shut off the power if possible and call for help. If the power cannot be shut down, dislodge the victim carefully with a non-conductive material. Arc flash safety requires trained personnel to conduct the rescue operation because burns from the accident are highly delicate. Tell the victim, if conscious, not to move around. If the victim emerges fine from an arc flash, don’t be complacent. The victim must still consult the doctor because some repercussions don’t immediately appear. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as OSHA, has regulations in place that dictate that all employees that are potentially exposed to arc flashes receive proper training.
In an environment that’s dominated by electrical equipment, arc flash safety is always a premium and your employees should be trained regarding the dangers.