Avoiding Arc Flash Accidents in Manufacturing Plants

Avoiding Arc Flash Accidents in Manufacturing Plants

Arc flash is an electrical phenomenon, which takes place when electrical current moves out of its designated pathway and travels to ground through the air or to another conductor.

Accidents occurring due to the electrical arc flash cause injury or death to many machine workers every year in the US. The arc flash leads to the release of a massive amount of energy from the electrical equipment. If a worker gets directly hit by an arc flash, the energy is enough to injure or kill him or her.

How do Arc Flashes Occur?

Numerous things from a faulty wire installation to human error can cause an electrical arc flash. Here are some of the common causes:

  • Accidental touching
  • Corrosion
  • Dropping a tool
  • Dust
  • Faulty wire installation
  • Human error
  • Material failure

Effects of an Arc Flash

Arc flashes can be highly unpredictable and could result in different types of effects. Some of the common effects include:

  • Blast pressure of up to 2,000 lbs. per sq. ft.
  • Burns
  • Deafening sound blast
  • Fire
  • Flying objects
  • Heat

Protecting Workers from the Risk of Arc Flash Injuries

The first step to protect workers against arc flash accidents is to provide them with professional training on how to work on an electrical circuit safely and make them aware of the dangers posed by arc flashes. An employer can take the following steps to protect workers against arc flash injuries:

  • Install circuit interrupters (ground fault).
  • Use guarding and insulation.
  • De-energize circuits when the workers are repairing them.
  • Provide the workers with proper protective gear.
  • Provide the workers with barricades.
  • Place clear warning labels on equipment with arc flash hazard.

The YouTube video below provides four basic steps to prevent electrical injury in the workplace.

Important Preventive Tips for Workers 

Never Repair an Energized Machine

As a rule, never work on any machine or equipment that is energized. Turn off the power before performing any repair to avoid an arc flash.

Read and Follow the Electrical Safety Policies

Read the electrical safety policies laid down by an officer of the employer’s electrical safety division. Following these policies will help prevent any arc flash accidents. Being electrocuted is a terrible situation and a horrible experience. It is paramount all safety precautions are taken to get the job done.

Read the Warning Label on the Equipment 

Always read warnings that are labeled on electrical equipment. This will serve as a reminder and minimize the risk of an arc flash during servicing, adjustment, or examination of the equipment.

Make Use of Electrical PPE

Electrical personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided by your employer for performing any risky operation. The PPE is designed to protect you from arc flashes.

Use Appropriate Tools for Maintenance 

While servicing electrical equipment or machine, it is vital to use appropriate tools. Make sure you have access to the specified electrical devices and tools for maintenance.

Guidelines for Employers

All electrical machinery includes active components, such as circuit breakers and fuses. These are helpful in avoiding arc flashes. Maintain these active components in every machine, system, and so on at all times. In addition, keep all documents related to electrical distribution systems in a place that all pertinent personnel knows where to find them. This information provides critical safety data and information related to the machine, system, and equipment.

Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. Electrical arc flash accidents cause injury or death to many machine workers every year. If you have been hurt or a loved one was fatally injured in an arc flash accident, call me for free, friendly legal advice at 916-584-9355.

I have been helping many Sacramento residents and other Northern Californians in getting full compensation in wrongful death and personal injury cases since 1982.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates.

Photo by skeeze on pixabay.com

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