Preventing Arc Flash Tragedies

The best way to prevent arc flash or to protect workers in the event of an accident is through effective training. In addition to being “qualified” under OSHA’s electrical standard, workers who may be exposed to arc flash hazards need to understand why arc flash occurs, how to prevent it, and safe work practices to prevent injury.

Arc flash occurs when electrical current flows between two or more separated energized conducting surfaces. Common causes of arc flash include:

  • Insulation failure
  • Buildup of dust, impurities, and corrosion on insulating surfaces, which can provide a path for current equipment failure due to the use of substandard parts, improper installation, or even normal wear and tear
  • Birds, bees, and rodents snapping leads at connections
  • Human error, including dropped tools, accidental contact with electrical systems, and improper work procedures

Arc Flash Prevention 

The best way to prevent arc flash is to de-energize equipment before beginning work.

  • Employees should be trained not to work on live equipment greater than 50 volts unless de-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards such as cutting ventilation to a hazardous location, or unless it’s impractical because of equipment design or operation limitations such as when voltage testing is required for diagnostic purposes.
  • When it is necessary to work on energized equipment, workers should always follow safe work practices, including assessing risks, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and using proper tools.

Safe Work Practices

Safe work practices can help prevent arc flash as well as protect workers in the event of an incident.

Use of appropriate PPE, for example, is essential. Depending on risks, PPE could include:

•   Flame-resistant clothing
•   Helmet or headgear
•   Face shield
•   Safety glasses
•   Insulating gloves
•   Shoes appropriate for electrical work (no metal)

Other precautions include:

•   Obeying all warning signs and labels
•   Following established work procedures
•   Performing only functions employees are trained to do and have been “qualified” for according to OSHA’s electrical standard

This information is excerpted from the Electrical Arc Flash course that you can find in BLR’sTraining Today. Safety Library

And the arc flash safety course is just one of more than 60 safety training courses available in the Training Today Safety Library. These are all motivational, actionable programs—for both supervisors and employees—in such key areas as hazard communication, back safety, general workplace safety, bloodborne pathogens, OSHA requirements, and many more. And, what’s more, we add new programs continually.

Best of all, in these budget-crunching times, Training Today costs only a fraction of what you would pay for a learning management system (LMS). You always know exactly what training will cost, no matter how many programs you use or how many times you use them. Budget once and you’re done!

Just as important, Training Today automatically documents training. As trainees sign on, their identifications are automatically registered. And when the program is completed, the trainee’s score is entered. So, when you want to see who has or hasn’t yet trained on any subject, or look at the across-the-board activity of any one employee, it’s all there, instantly available to you, your boss, an inspector—even a plaintiff’s attorney.

BLR’s Training Today also includes a similar selection of HR, Environmental, Leadership, and other libraries—you decide whether you want just the safety courses or add on the others that are relevant to you.

If it sounds like we’re excited about Training Today, well, we are! Find the list of available libraries —here.


2 thoughts on “Preventing Arc Flash Tragedies”

  1. Our Safety Training Tips editor says that in order for your safety training to be effective, you need to have clear communication with trainees.

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