Did you know that five to ten arc explosions occur in the U.S. every day? These explosions are hotter than the sun, can be louder than a jet engine, and has the potential pressure to knock workers off their feet. An arc flash will last just a moment, but the results can be devastating.

An arc flash is an unexpected release of energy resulting from an electrical current leaving its designated path. As the electric discharge moves through the air from one voltage phase to another, it causes an explosion that can destroy electrical equipment completely and injure employees severely, even causing fatalities in some cases. Arc flash safety encompasses a number of elements:

  • Regulations: The first step to arc flash safety is meeting compliance with the OSHA standard “Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution and Electrical Protective Equipment” as well as the National Electrical Code.
  • Equipment labeling: The National Electrical Code requires electrical equipment (like switchboards, control panels, switch boards, etc.) to be marked with a compliant label warning workers of arc flash hazards.
  • Electrical Safety: By nature, prioritizing electrical safety will help to prevent electrical explosions like arc flash. Even low voltage equipment has the potential to cause an explosion due to the high fault currents.
  • Lockout/Tagout: One of the best ways to prevent arc flash incidents is by safely de-energizing equipment before service or maintenance is performed and having a comprehensive LOTO program in place. 

Anything from an employee dropping a tool to the buildup of dust can cause an arc flash, but by addressing electrical hazards, training employees, and providing PPE, employers can adequately protect workers from arc flash. Creative Safety Supply is dedicated to improving safety and below, we have gathered our best resources on all things arc flash to help get you started.

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Arc Flash Articles

National Electrical Code (NEC)

National Electrical Code (NEC)

The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the ANSI/NFPA-approved standard for safe electrical installation. The NEC is revised once every three years, with the most recent changes in 2017.

Arc Flash Label Requirements

Arc Flash Label Requirements

Arc flash hazard labels must be placed on any piece of electrical equipment where workers might need to perform work while the equipment is still energized.

What is an Electrical Arc?

What is an Electrical Arc?

Electrical arcs can be a serious hazard when not intended. When an electric arc is created in an uncontrolled environment, such as an arc flash, serious injury or death can occur. Learn more...

NFPA 70E

NFPA 70E

NFPA 70E was created to help prevent injuries to workers in energized environments. If you’re working with live energy, you need to know this safety standard to stay OSHA compliant.

What is a Thermal Printer?

What is a Thermal Printer?

Thermal printers are essential to printing in an industrial setting. Learn about the two types of thermal printing to determine which one suits your facility’s needs.

Arc Flash Labeling

Arc Flash Labeling

Arc Flashes are one of the most dangerous accidents that can happen in a facility. Learn how to keep your facility safe and incident-free through proper labeling.

Arc Flash and Electrical Safety

Arc Flash and Electrical Safety

Learn how arc flash works and how it relates to your larger electrical safety program.

Arc Flash PPE

Arc Flash PPE

Make sure everyone knows what protective equipment they need to work near this serious hazard.

10 Essential Steps for Electrical Safety

10 Essential Steps for Electrical Safety

Follow these 10 steps to protect people and property from electrical hazards.

Arc Flash Software

Arc Flash Software

A review of common software programs that will help you reduce arc flash hazards.

Arc Flash Facts

Arc Flash Facts

Arc flash can cause serious damage to people and property. Learn how arc flash works and how you can prevent it.


Arc Flash Questions and Answers

What causes electrical arcing?

Electrical arcing occurs when a discharge of electricity is produced during an electrical breakdown of gases within the air. This discharge is continuous rather than momentary, which is what separates an electrical arc from an electric spark. The current’s intended path becomes disrupted, and it will instead travel between two points, either from one conductor… 

What is the difference between an arc flash and an arc blast?

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… 

Who is at risk of an arc flash?

Arc flashes are widely understood to be one of the most dangerous events that can happen in the workplace. Safety managers and employees who work around electrical systems both know that an arc flash can cause life threatening injuries to those who are working in the area. The fact is, however, that an arc flash… 

Is arc flash analysis required by OSHA?

Complying with all OSHA requirements is essential for the success of any manufacturing, warehousing, or other company. Not only will this help to avoid any fines or penalties, but it will also help to ensure your employees and facility are as safe as possible. Unfortunately, OSHA’s requirements aren’t always as clear as they could be.… 

What organizations enforce arc flash standards?

Arc flashes are one of the most dangerous events that can occur in the workplace. This is why all employers need to take arc flash training and safety very seriously. In addition to simply wanting to keep everyone safe, it is also encouraged by both the NFPA and OSHA. Many people are surprised to learn… 

Who needs arc flash training?

When working toward a safer workplace, arc flash safety training is an important addition to any environment. When deciding who needs arc flash training in your facility, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. The simple answer is to say that anyone who works with electrical equipment, or works in an… 

What is arc flash labeling?

The best way to help keep people from getting injured or killed due to an arc flash is to keep them informed of the dangers. When people are aware of the risk of an arc flash in a given area, they are much more likely to take the necessary precautions. This would include staying out… 

How can I mark off arc flash boundaries?

When working on minimizing the risk of an arc flash in your facility, one of the first things you should do is take arc flash measurements. These measurements will identify how far away from the source of an arc flash one must be before the risk is no longer life threatening. According to the National… 

How do I determine arc flash boundaries?

An arc flash boundary is the distance from the equipment in question to the point where the energy that would be present in an arc flash is 1.2 cal/cm2. This is the level at which it will cause only second-degree burns rather than third-degree. Calculating where the boundary will be in any given situation is… 

What is an arc flash boundary?

Arc flashes are dangerous events that can impact an entire facility. They are most dangerous, however, for those who are in the immediate vicinity of where the fault occurs. Anyone in the area is going to be exposed to extremely high temperatures, which can cause serious burns very quickly. Of course, anyone who comes into… 

Are arc flash labels required?

One of the best ways to keep people safe from the threat of an arc flash is to ensure they aren’t in the area should one occur. Or, if they must be in the area, that they are wearing the proper personal protection equipment. In order to do that, OSHA requires that employers use arc… 

What is an arc flash rating?

When working in areas where an arc flash is possible, it is important to know what the risk is, and how to best protect those in the area. To help with this, NFPA 70E has come up with Hazard Risk Categories (HRC) based on different duties in the workplace. These ratings are given to different… 

At what voltage can an arc flash occur?

How much voltage is required for an arc flash to occur is a very common question, but the answer isn’t always as simple as one would like. In general, arc faults only occur in systems that are 120 volts or higher, but that is not a hard rule. If the conductors are very close together,… 

Where do arc flashes occur?

An arc flash is a very dangerous event that can cause explosions, fires, and electrocution. These potentially deadly events need to be prepared for so that they can be prevented when possible, and the damage and injuries they cause can be minimized. In order to best prepare for an arc flash of any kind, you… 

How do I prevent an arc flash from happening?

Whenever working with high voltage systems, it is important to do everything possible to avoid an arc flash. Given the fact that arc flashes are among the most deadly types of incident that can occur, all facilities should have a set plan of action on how to prevent them from happening. The following should all… 

How do I complete an arc flash hazard analysis?

Arc flashes are among the most dangerous hazards in the workplace. They can occur in far less than a second, are unpredictable, and can be deadly. For this reason, all employers need to make sure that their systems are kept in proper working order, and know how to identify when there is an elevated risk… 

What are different ratings of arc flash PPE?

When buying arc flash personal protective equipment, you will find that each item is rated differently. The ratings are based on how much protection they are able to provide. Tests are performed on the fabric or other material using a variety of different methods to see whether they can safely protect employees who use the… 

What types of PPE are there for arc flash protection?

Arc flashes are very dangerous and all facilities should take active steps to prevent them from occurring. No matter how careful a company is, however, it is impossible to eliminate all risk of an arc flash from occurring. In addition, there are times when someone needs to work an environment where the risk of an… 

How does an arc flash occur?

An arc flash will occur when there is a path of lower resistance exists between the electrical system and some other point than exists within the electrical system. Normally, electrical systems, and especially electrical wires, are well-insulated to make it very difficult for the electricity to pass outside of the system. If the insulation is… 

What is an arc flash?

There are many different hazards present in the workplace, but for many facilities, an arc flash has the potential to be the most dangerous. An arc flash is the arc of light and heat that is produced by electricity traveling through the air between two points. These happen when there is a path of low-impedance… 

Arc Flash Infographics

Arc Flash PPE Categories

Arc Flash PPE Categories

Arc Flash PPE Categories The Arc Flash Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Category is determined by consulting the PPE tables in article… 

10 Astonishing Facts about Arc Flash

10 Astonishing Facts about Arc Flash

10 Astonishing Facts about Arc Flash An Arc Flash is an energy discharge that forms when a fault occurs in an… 

Arc Flash Podcasts

NFPA 70E electrical standards see a major shift in the 2015 edition. Hear Bill Burke of the NFPA explain the… 

Electrical safety at work kicks up a notch with strong advice from OSHA trainer Jon Koppari. Hear Jon’s tips for… 

  Flame resistant clothing now means comfort. Hear about the new polyester FR fabric, a comfort and safety breakthrough from Bulwark… 

Arc blast dangers can be minimized with a Hierarchy Of Controls. Hear the difference between arc flash and arc blast,… 

Arc flash can melt synthetic underwear right to your skin. Wear arc-rated base layers, socks and briefs beneath an arc-rated… 

Wind energy safety is a careful blend of fall protection, electrical hazard awareness and much more. Hear the best practices… 

Eye protection should ramp up in summer, when outdoor workers are exposed to more hazards. Hear how cheap sunglasses may… 

The NFPA 70E changes for 2015 are substantial. Business owners and safety managers—not just electricians—need to be aware. Hear from the… 

FR wear finally has an improvement. Now you can buy lightweight, comfortable, breathable garments made from a new polyester. Flame-resistant clothing has a… 

Available fault current is the maximum current in a short circuit. Electrical service panels must be labeled with the current,… 

A fireproof workplace and personal protective equipment are critical for safe welding. Welding is a hot work process due a… 

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