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In an arc flash, the current moves through an exposed electrical conductor and takes a shortcut through the air to the ground or a peripheral conductor with a lower voltage. Typically, the air resists electrical currents – but with faulty equipment, it can create a short. The connection creates an extremely hot plasma that can burn equipment and potentially cause an explosion. This is why arc flash safety is so important.
Not only does it have the ability to throw materials in an area, but workers can also be seriously injured. An electrical arc can produce intense heat as high as 19,427°C – or 35000.6 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a myriad of reasons as to why an arc flash occurs, but typically, it is associated with insulation breakdowns, dropped tools, or the activation of a high amperage circuit. Arc flashes stem from:
Carelessness. This is arguably one of the most common reasons as to why an arc flash occurs. Inadequate training, the pressure to restore power, and overconfidence can cause a worker to bypass safety procedures or not conceptualize them altogether.
Human error. Habits like developing a procedural workaround can eventually lead to mistakes by dropping a conductive item like a bolt into the equipment enclosure. Something as small as a screw can interrupt the flow of electrical current and cause it to jump, leading to an arc flash.
Equipment failure. Corroding insulation or normal wear and tear can also affect the propensity of arc flashes. Worn equipment that is rated for certain level of current can be undermined and may not be viable any longer. If the insulated portions of an equipment begin to corrode, then the exposed surfaces can cause an arc flash.
According to Industrial Safety And Hygiene News, 30,000 incidents associated with arc flashes occur each year. 7,000 workers are burned a year.
Unfortunately, these numbers are conservative. When it comes to work-related injuries, some incidents may not be reported. Not only that, but medical professions sometimes classify arc flash-related injuries as a burn injury instead of arc flash related.
Not only are arc flashes dangerous, but it can also be a logistical ordeal for employers. Electrical construction employers will have to endure the cost of absenteeism due to work-related injuries. Depending on a company’s current safety policies, absenteeism can be a significant organizational problem and can undermine productivity.
Work safety is more than just avoiding unfortunate accidents; there are reasons why companies and contractors should make it a priority that isn’t as obvious.
Proper training can enhance a company’s brand, improve employee loyalty, decrease interruptions, and helps promote a culture of corporate responsibility. A company that supports safe workplace conditions is perceived as being socially responsible to potential clientele – and it’s a marker that is increasing in value and translating into profitability.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis notes that corporate social responsibility is closely linked to enhancing a company’s reputation and ability to generate profits by differentiating itself from competitors. With strategic corporate responsibility measures, organizations can potentially increase their market value by around 2%.
Whether it’s avoiding costly legal fees or enhancing the overall image of the company, proper safety training plays a vital role in the organization’s well-being. As such, it should be critical to invest in work safety via proper training.
NFPA 70E is a standard enacted by the National Fire Protection Association, a trade association that creates and maintains rules adopted by the federal government. The training addresses workplace electrical safety requirements, focusing on practical and specialized safeguards that enable workers to be productive while being cognizant of potential hazards. The title explicitly covers the role of electrical conductors within or on structures.
The NFPA 70E course focuses on a hands-on approach to training, where attendees demonstrate safety skills that they must display on the field. With the 2018 edition of the electrical safety standards, NFPA 70E emphasizes the role of proper risk assessment, identifying hazards before they become an issue proactively.
NTT Training is dedicated to practical hands-on safety, working closely with contractors, employers, and their staff. We deliver up-to-date, comprehensive seminars and hands-on training to replicate real-life scenarios. To learn more about how you can empower your employees with the NFPA 70E title, contact NTT Training today.
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