Arc Flash - Do you know the risks?

What is Arc Flash? Arc Flash is the result of a rapid release of energy due to an arcing fault between a phase bus bar and another phase bus bar, neutral or a ground. During an arc fault the air is the conductor. Arc faults are generally limited to systems where the bus voltage is in excess of 120 volts. Lower voltage levels normally will not sustain an arc. An arc fault is similar to the arc obtained during electric welding and the fault has to be manually started by something creating the path of conduction or a failure such as a breakdown in insulation. Unlike electrical shock an arc fault may cause fatal or severe burns thru the dangerous release of radiant heat (up to 35,000F degrees) to people up to 10 feet away. The vaporization of metal and heating of the air creates blast pressures that can result in hearing loss and the spray of molten metal covers a wide area.

How often does this occur? Capschell Inc.; a Chicago based research firm that specializes in preventing workplace injuries and death reports that 5 to 10 arc flash explosions occur in electrical equipment in the US every day. The Census of Fatal Injuries noted 548 employees died from the causes of electrical current exposure out of 6588 work related fatalities nationwide which is about 8-1/2%.

KTA can efficiently survey the facility and collect the necessary data to develop accurate power riser diagrams, utilize SKM software to perform the short circuit, breaker coordination and arc flash hazard analysis and provide and apply the safety labeling. If requested KTA can also provide the training for the employer’s staff electricians advising them of the hazards, the labels and how to properly prepare for working within a hazard boundary (see proposed course syllabus). Additionally, KTA can furnish the PPE equipment packages which include the protective clothing.


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