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Electricity is a good servant but a terrible master – or so the saying goes. Motors, mills, presses and many other instruments, machines and devices rely on electricity to function while numerous industries use high voltage power in their operations. Unfortunately, these uses of electricity are always prone to accidents and eventualities typically with deadly consequences. We cannot do away with electricity all together so the best thing is to know how to keep ourselves and those around us safe.
One of the most-fatal types of accidents associated with high voltages of electricity is arc flash. The sudden, explosive energy bursts injure thousands of people each year and have fatal long-term effects. Electrical workers who are predisposed to arc flashes should know the potential risks and understand how they can keep themselves and their coworkers safe. All this begins with an understanding of what arc flashes are and proper training on the effective safety measures.
An arc flash is the light and heat produced when electric current flows through an air gap between two conductors. Also known as an electric arc, it involves a rapid but dangerous release of energy as a result of an electrical arcing fault.
An arcing fault is triggered when two conductors lay near each other. When electricity is flowing through the conductor connected to electricity it wants to flow through to the nearby conductor. However, the air pocket between them provides insulation preventing such electric flow.
However, if you turn up the voltage higher than the breakdown voltage of air, the electric current will be able to jump, or flow to the other conductor. The flow of current through air elicits a lit plasma which has a unique sound, heat and pressure. This is commonly known as a spark.
Continual flow of a strong current will cause the spark to evolve into a massive discharge of energy commonly known as an arc flash. An electric arc happens so fast in that it even appears to be instantaneous.
High intensity arc flashes can be referred to as arc flash hazards. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) defines arc flash hazards as sources of possible injuries or health damages due to release of energy caused by an electric arc. Arc flash hazards can be split into two types of catastrophes which are arc slashes and arc blasts. Arc flashes consist of the light and heat while arc blasts make up the pressure emitted.
Arc flashes carry with them the obvious risk of shock and electrocution to anyone nearby. A single flash can reach up to 35, 000 degrees Fahrenheit, a fatal temperature which is four times hotter than the sun’s surface. The instant effect is severe burns even for someone standing up to 10 feet away.
The flash can heat clothing or other combustible worn materials to make them melt onto the skin or burst into flames. Cases of electrical workers who have gotten fatal burns by fires sparked by arc flashes are not new.
An arc flash emits intense UV radiation and can temporarily blind and perplex workers or cause corneal burns. The blast elicits a pressure wave of up to 1,000 pounds that could lead to ruptured eardrums, collapsed lungs and internal injuries. The pressure could also knock workers offer their feet and send shrapnel flying in the air possibly landing on and injuring workers.
The heat and pressure can instantly heat and vaporize metallic parts leading to production of toxic vapors. Such can cause instantaneous lung collapse or other long term health effects.
To operate safely, electrical workers ought to know how to establish electrically safe working environments by disconnecting, discharging, locking and tagging equipment prior to beginning their work. The best training should be structured in accordance with the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical safety in the Workplace.
Amongst the other aspects taught in NFPA 70E training is identification of arc flash boundaries. Workers are also taught how to wear proper arc flash clothing and practice all the NFPA 70E guidelines. They are also trained on how to identify and understand safety instructions and warnings such as the kinds evident on customized arc flash labels.
It is evident that workers need this training. However, unfortunately, flying out your workers to training workshops will not only eat away at precious work hours, it is also exorbitantly expensive. Fortunately, your workers can still get the same level of training remotely via online classes. Such training consist of structured study materials with detailed learning materials about all the aspects taught. Remote learning has more added advantages such as:
Empower your workers by enrolling them to the Arc Flash Electrical Safety Training at NTT Training to help them develop the skills, awareness and core competencies required to interpret and comply with NFPA-70E. Connect with us today to learn more.
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