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Home » News » Understanding Arc Flash: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Team

Understanding Arc Flash: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Team

What is an Arc Flash?
An Arc Flash occurs when an electrical discharge travels through the air, releasing an intense burst of energy. This event can cause severe harm to anyone nearby, making adequate Arc Flash protection essential.

An electric arc, or arc discharge, happens when an electrical discharge or short circuit travels through the air. Several factors can cause an Arc Flash, including voltage spikes, worn connections, cable strikes, or gaps in insulation. The result is a flash of intense energy.

The Dangers of Arc Flash
The energy released by an Arc Flash can be catastrophic, with temperatures reaching up to 35,000ºF (over 19,000ºC). Such extreme heat can incinerate clothing and cause severe burns to human skin within fractions of a second, even if the individual is five or six meters away from the Arc Flash event.

Beyond the thermal danger, an Arc Flash can create an explosive pressure wave capable of throwing workers across a room and producing a sound blast that can rupture eardrums. The bright flash can also cause temporary or permanent blindness.

Why Do You Need Arc Flash Protection?
The thermal energy from an Arc Flash incident can be lethal. However, serious burns and other potentially life-threatening injuries can be minimized or even avoided by wearing the right Arc Flash protective garments.

While an Arc Flash might not be a daily occurrence in your business, they happen multiple times each working day in the UK. By conducting risk assessments and implementing safe working practices, your company can limit the likelihood of an Arc Flash incident. Arc Flash studies can assess and analyse the risks in your working environment.

Wearing the appropriate Arc Flash protective garments for the specific risk level is crucial for increasing safety. Although some risk will always remain, significant protection is available through proper clothing.

Is Arc Flash Protection Required in Your Industry?
Arc Flash incidents are common in industries such as power generation, utilities, industrial electrical, and the rail industry. Arc Flash protective clothing can help prevent serious burns and permanent injuries in these sectors.

If your business operates in any of these key sectors, you should consider Arc Flash protection for your team:

Power Generation: Your team is at risk of an Arc Flash incident both inside and outside power stations.
Utilities: Field workers need protection from Arc Flash dangers, especially during ground-breaking activities.
Petrochemicals: Awareness of Arc Flash dangers is integral to risk assessments. Arc Flash garments are becoming the safety clothing of choice in this sector.
Rail: Arc Flash protection is vital for railway workers. Protective garments that comply with UK regulations for high visibility are available.
Industrial Electrical: Those working with high voltage power supplies, in distribution centres, and industrial and commercial maintenance teams are at risk of Arc Flash incidents. Ensure they are protected.

How Do I Know If We Need Arc Flash PPE?
Keeping your team safe should always be a top priority. If your teams work in the industries mentioned above or close to sources of high voltage, they likely need Arc Flash protection. The first step is conducting an Arc Flash study at your site.

An Arc Flash study is a risk assessment that identifies Arc Flash hazards in a workplace. Conducted by electrical safety experts, this assessment helps a company understand the risks their workplace poses and how to protect against them. Assessment providers may also offer training to raise awareness and options for periodic reviews.

For more information on Arc Flash protection and to browse our range of protective garments, visit Safety Care’s Arc Flash product page.

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