Electrical injuries can be some of the most severe in the workplace. Of those electrical injuries, over 75% of them are caused by arc flashes. An arc flash can cause deadly electrocution and other types of injuries. Along with many powerful arc flashes, however, comes with an arc blast, which can greatly increase the hazards for those in the surrounding area. Understanding what an arc flash is, and what an arc blast is, will help you to prepare the proper safety plans to keep everyone safe.
Understanding an Arc Flash
An arc flash occurs due to an electrical fault, which results in an electrical explosion. The electricity escapes from the system where it is being used, and travels through the air to another conductor point. The arc flash can reach temperatures of more than four times that of the surface of the sun. This can cause severe burns to anyone in the area. In addition, it can cause metals and other objects to melt or catch on fire.
Understanding an Arc Blast
An arc blast is the pressure wave that is created as a result of an arc flash. This blast of pressure can be extremely strong, and will be able to send objects flying through the air at great velocity. Even the pressure alone can cause serious damage to the brain, organs, and other parts of the human body. It can also send people flying through the air, which will result in injuries from their impact with other things in the area. The strength of the arc blast will depend largely on how powerful the arc flash is, and how much pressure it creates.
A Dangerous Combination
When a powerful arc flash occurs, it will have an accompanying arc blast. This combination can create an especially dangerous situation for those in the immediate area, as well as those in the surrounding facility. The arc flash can cause fire and molten metals to be present, and the arc blast will send them flying through the area to the surrounding area. This will cause a variety of hazards throughout the area, which is why having an arc flash safety plan in place is essential for any facility.
Additional Facts about Arc Flashes and Arc Blasts:
- According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), arc flash incidents are responsible for 80% of all electrical injuries in the U.S. every year. Source: https://www.bing.com/search?q=arc+flash+statistics&toWww=1&redig=AAD690E94ED44339887F2E2D9D682C19
- The most common cause of arc flash is human error, such as using improper tools, dropping metal objects, or touching live parts. Source: https://www.bing.com/search?q=arc+flash+statistics&toWww=1&redig=AAD690E94ED44339887F2E2D9D682C19
- The duration of an arc flash can range from a fraction of a second to several seconds, depending on the fault current and the protective devices in the system. Source: https://www.conney.com/websphere/ResourcesTabs/Knowledge-Base/Whitepapers/ArcFlash_Whitepaper.pdf
- The sound level of an arc blast can exceed 160 decibels, which is louder than a jet engine or a gunshot. This can cause permanent hearing loss or rupture of the eardrums. Source: https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/Electrical/Fatal-electrical-injuries-at-work
- The pressure wave of an arc blast can also damage the lungs, heart, and other internal organs. It can also cause concussions, fractures, and spinal injuries. Source: https://elecsafety.co.uk/what-is-arc-flash/
- The best way to prevent arc flash and arc blast injuries is to follow the NFPA 70E standard, which provides guidelines for electrical safety in the workplace. This includes de-energizing equipment before working on it, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and maintaining a safe distance from energized parts. Source: https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/Electrical/Fatal-electrical-injuries-at-work
- What is an arc flash?
- Who is at risk of an arc flash?
- What is an arc flash boundary?
- What is an electrical arc?
- At what voltage can an arc flash occur?
- How does an arc flash occur?
- Where do arc flashes occur?
- How do I prevent an arc flash from happening?
- What causes electrical arcing?