Arc Flash Hazard, Causes and Prevention

You are currently viewing Arc Flash Hazard, Causes and Prevention

Are you worried about the arc flash hazard at the workplace? Me too, That is right I’m an electrical engineer, and I know exactly what arc flash can do.

In this article, we will guide you about arc flash, its reasons, and all related terms.

before we move forward, it is important to define the term. So let’s start with a definition.

What Is Arc Flash?

Arch flash can be defined as, the production of light and heat due to the arc fault. It is a type of explosion due to the connection of air to the ground in an electrical system.

Another reason for the arc flash is voltage phase etc. We explain it with an example, such as when a current-carrying wire makes a connection earthed system. As a result of which arc flash produces.

What Is An Arc Flash Hazard?

It is one of the extreme hazards having 20,000 °C temperature. Which can cause burning and other injuries.

Other Arc Flash Hazards Include:

  • internal burns
  • intoxication due to hot gases inhalation
  • vaporized metals
  • eyes and hearing damages
  • blindness due to ultraviolet light
  • and any other devastating injuries.

Therefore, proper protection is necessary against these types of arc flash hazard.

 Causes of Arc Flash

The main reason behind the arc flash hazard is when electrical conductors are placed close to each other. And when current flows through the conductors, the Ionization of Air occurs.

As a result, arc flash occurs, similarly unnecessarily touching tools while working in low voltages can also cause an arc flash.

Some other reasons that cause arc flash are

  • Using Improper tools and installation techniques
  • Lack of training and awareness about electrical safety.
  • Using uncovered or damaged electrical cables/ equipment and materials
  • Obstruction in disconnect panels
  • Corrosion on electrical conductors, Dust, debris
  • Low standard protective equipment such as circuit breakers & switches
  • loose connections and Exposed live parts
  • damaged high voltage cables
  • Exposure of electrical equipment to liquids or water etc.

 For more about electrical hazard read our articles:

  1. How to avoid electrical hazard at work?
  2. Common electrical hazards identification and prevention.

Common Arc Flash Hazards

Below are common types of hazards caused due to arc flash.

  • Fire: A common hazard due to arc flash is fire. A fire can spread in the workplace and can become a severe workplace threat. Due to fire, there is a risk of heat infusion and other hazardous radiation. Read our article about fire protection systems.
  • Burn: Arc flash can cause burning. This includes both the human body and workplace equipment. Which can destroy as a result of arc flash.
  • Explosion and flying object: Arc flash can cause an explosion. And there is a chance of injuries due to flying objects, as well as the sound can damage your hearing ability.
  • Electrocution: If you are in the vicinity of a charged particle. Arc flash can cause electrocution.

Besides the above-mentioned hazards, there are a lot of more hazards related to arc flash.

How to avoid Arc flash-related hazards?

We can avoid these types of hazards in different ways. Such as de-energizing circuits, reducing the arcing time, improving the design, increasing distance, and preventing fault current can reduce the risks of arc flash hazards. Let’s discuss it in detail.

De Energizing circuit

The first protective measure that we can apply to prevent or limit the risk of arc flash is the de-energizing of the circuit.

Make sure that while working within an electrical system it is disconnected from the power source and LOTO isolation system is applied.

If you are dealing with high voltages, use remote testing tools to test the electrical voltage of the circuit. If you are working in any type of electrical system, make sure it is de-energized and detached from the power source.

While if it is necessary to deal with energized circuits, always wear personal protective equipment. Similarly, you have a complete job briefing about safety, related training, and energized electrical work permit.

Study before you start working

When you start working within an electrical system, make sure you have completely studied the system and have relevant knowledge.

While working in live electrical systems, always use advanced protective technology to avoid any mishap and promote a safe work culture.

Improving system design

We can reduce the arc flash hazard by improving system design, a system design consists of three factors, i.e. quantity of fault current in the system, arcing time a distance of a person from the fault arc.

If we make proper attention to eliminate or reduce the hazards. We are also discussing each factor in detail.

Fault Current

Fault current is one of the main sources for causing arc flash hazard. We can reduce the chances of occurrence by using current-limiting devices.

The devices may include current limiting breakers, grounding resistors, and electrical fuses.

Arcing Time

Another important method to reduce arc flash hazard is reducing arcing time. We can reduce the arcing time by setting protective devices to the lower set points.

This technique clears any fault during the earliest time by the nearest circuit breaker device. So when a protective device detects any fault, it operates instantly.

So the lower the operating time will ensure a quicker response against the hazard. Besides this, we can use ground fault circuit interrupters, Grounding, Guarding, and insulation techniques to avoid these hazards.

 Maintaining a proper distance

As discussed earlier that, Arc flash hazard causes different human injuries including internal and external burns, intoxication, eyes and hearing damages, blindness, etc.

So maintaining a specific distance from the conductors can reduce the chances of injury.

According to statistics, radiant energy caused due to arc can hurt the human body in the distance range of 6.1 meters or twenty feet.

So if a person maintains a specific safe distance and wears the relevant personal protective equipment. He can secure himself from the hazards of arc flash.

Training of employees

We can eliminate or reduce the risks related to arc flash by training workplace employees.

Proper training can lead to a safe work environment. Electrical equipment can be harmful to people around the workplace. So it is important to arrange proper training and regular check-up in the workplace to eliminate arc flash hazards at the workplace.

If it is not possible to train all the employees. You can train the most relevant people like electricians, Electrical engineers, Mechanics, and electrical supervisors to reduce the chances of injuries by 70%.

PPE for Arc Flash Hazard – The Arc Flash Protection Suit

PPE are made for your own safety
PPE are made for your own safety

Protecting workers is a priority. Besides the above control methods wearing arc flash suit is important when working near energized panels. Of course PPE can’t prevent the accident from happening, and is the last line of defensive.

The suit protects worker from head to toe. And it should protect against the thermal energy of the arc flash.

The PPE includes some form of:

  • arc-rated clothing
  • eye and face protection
  • hearing protection from the high noise during the flash
  • insulated gloves, the voltage rating must be more greater than the panel voltage
  • also you need safety shoes as well

Is arc Flash an Electrical Hazard

Yes it is one of the most dangerous electrical hazard that can cause serious injuries and fatalities to workers and destruction and burn to equipment.