Arc flash and arc fault can both be tricky to understand, but they are one of the most dangerous elements of workplaces dealing with large amounts of electricity. The actual definition of an arc flash is “an undesired electric discharge that travels through the air between conductors or from a conductor to a ground.” They occur for a variety of reasons, like condensation, corrosion, water leaks, etc., and it is important to understand the causes of arc flashes to take appropriate precautions. If not, workers can sustain second or third-degree burns and a facility can be at risk for serious damage.
When an arc flash occurs, an electrical arc travels quickly from one conductor to another, or to ground through the air. Although an arc flash happens quickly, it will last until the circuit is broken. The result of an arc flash can be temperatures nearing 35,000°F and intense waves of pressure. Metal conductors can be melted or even vaporized. People can be knocked over from pressure waves and the noise of an arc flash can cause permanent hearing damage. Pressure can send projectiles through the air and an arc flash can often result in a fire.
Although the risks and causes can be difficult to take in, we hope this site will help you answer the most frequently asked, and most important, questions regarding arc flash. We will look at the recommendations and regulations that have been set forth by the National Fire Protection Association’s guidelines, NFPA 70E. We will explore the different types of recommended Personal Protective Equipment for protecting workers from an arc flash, and the use of effective arc flash labels in the workplace. We’ll show how to calculate arc flash boundaries and what best practices a facility should employ to keep their facility safe for workers.
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