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Arc Flash Hazards

What are the hazards of arc flash? Why is arc flash really such a big deal?

There are numerous occupational hazards associated with working on electrical systems in industrial facilities. Exposure to energized equipment increases the risk of death or injury to workers. Arc flash hazards can be deadly even though the actual electrical current doesn't pass through the body. Even workers standing ten feet away from the flash can receive life threatening injuries. Each year many employees are hospitalized with arc flash burns and injuries as a result of electrical accidents.

An electrical arc is a high-temperature electric discharge across a gap or through a medium, such as charred insulation. An arc flash hazard is a dangerous condition associated with the possible release of energy caused by an electric arc. An arc flash results when a short circuit passes through air between two live conductors, or between a live conductor and ground. This short circuit can be accompanied by incredible amounts of heat and pressure causing catastrophic injury and damage.

An electric arc is a very high level source of heat, such as arc welding which is commonly used. The arc flash can generate temperatures exceeding 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperature causes rapid heating of the surrounding air and surfaces resulting in an explosive expansion of the air and metals. This explosive expansion is called an arc blast. The vaporized metals expand thousands of times their original volume, traveling at incredible speeds. This is a violent event with devastating results.

Arc flash can be caused by approaching a high amperage source with a conductive object, or simply dropping a tool. Poorly maintained equipment, improper installation, sub-standard parts, missing insulation, corrosion, or even normal wear and tear may trigger an arc flash.

Occurring without warning, and happening in a split second, the arc flash produces a blinding flash, incredibly intense heat, and an arc blast pressure wave capable of killing. The intense heat is four times hotter than the surface of the sun and instantly ignites clothing and causes severe burns requiring skin grafts or amputation. The arc blast pressure wave explosion sprays out molten metal shrapnel at high speed. The high pressure can throw workers from their feet or ladders and cause collapsed lungs, concussions, and hearing loss. Death can be instantaneous or workers may receive debilitating injuries, suffer post-traumatic stress, and face years of rehabilitation. Blindness can result from the blinding flash.

Many workers are at risk from arc flash hazards. Estimations show that five to ten arc flash explosions occur every day in the United States, resulting in one to two deaths each day. Safe work practices, education, personal protective clothing, and safety labeling help to reduce the arc flash hazard risks that workers face each day. Arc flash hazard labeling is an important part of every facility's safety program and supports workplace safety.

SafetyPro is the #1 leading arc flash label printer in the industry. Industrial Safety Solutions offers the most durable arc flash labels at the most affordable price. Time and again our customers tell us that we are the absolute best source for arc flash labeling supplies and equipment. SafetyPro is chosen around the globe for superior quality, durability and speed.

Tags: Arc flash hazards, arc flash problems, arc flash incidents