An Arc Flash occurs when an electrical discharge travels through the air and releases an intense burst of energy. This flash is capable of causing serious harm to anyone caught by it, so adequate Arc Flash protection is of the utmost importance.
An electric arc, also known as an arc discharge, occurs when an electrical discharge or short circuit moves through the air. Voltage spikes, worn connections, cable strikes or gaps in insulation are just some of the reasons that an Arc Flash occurs. A flash of intense energy is the result.
The energy expelled by an Arc Flash event can be deadly, with temperatures reaching up to 35,000ºF or more than 19,000ºC. It goes without saying; this can burn clothing and human skin within fractions of a second, even if the operative is situated five or six metres away from the Arc Flash event.
An Arc Flash can result in an explosive pressure wave that can throw workers across the room and a sound blast that can rupture eardrums. It is also accompanied by a bright flash which can cause temporary or even permanent blindness.
An Arc Flash incident should be recognised as a real danger to your team.
Take a look at this ultra slo-mo film of an Arc Flash incident
WHY DO YOU NEED ARC FLASH PROTECTION?
Thermal energy from an Arc Flash incident can be deadly. When someone is exposed to an Arc Flash incident, serious burns and other potentially life threatening injuries can be minimised and even avoided by effectively utilising Arc Flash garments.
An Arc Flash event may not be a daily occurrence in your business, but they are happening multiple times every working day in the UK. Risk assessment and precautions through safe working practices can be instigated by your company, and that will limit the possibility of an Arc Flash incident. These Arc Flash studies assess and analyse the risks in your working environment.
Wearing the correct Arc Flash protective garments for a specific risk level will further increase safety. There will always remain a risk, but there is significant Arc Flash protection available through wearing the correct garments.
IS ARC FLASH PROTECTION REQUIRED IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
Arc Flash incidents are common across industries such as power generation, utilities, industrial electrical and the rail industry. Arc Flash protective clothing can help prevent serious burns and permanent injury to those working in these sectors.
If you operate in any of these five key industry sectors, you should be considering Arc Flash protection for your team.
- Power Generation – Your team are at risk of an Arc Flash incident inside and outside power stations
- Utilities – Workers in the field require protection from Arc Flash dangers, especially if they are breaking ground on a regular basis
- Petrochemicals – We know that awareness of Arc Flash dangers is now an integral part of your risk assessments. Arc Flash garments are becoming the safety clothing of choice for many in this sector
- Rail – Arc Flash protection on the railways is vital. Arc Flash protective garments are available that comply with the special requirements of UK regulations for high visibility
- Industrial Electrical – Those working with high voltage power supplies, in distribution centres and industrial and commercial maintenance teams are all at risk of Arc Flash incidents. Make sure they are protected
Take a look at what makes ProGARM the leading Arc Flash protection specialist in the UK. You can also browse our online catalogue of Arc Flash garments.
HOW DO I KNOW IF WE NEED ARC FLASH PPE?
Keeping your team safe is always top priority. And your team need to be protected against an Arc Flash incident if there is a risk of one occurring whilst they work.
If your teams work in the above industries or close to sources of high voltage, there is a good chance they need to be protected.
Your first step may be to conduct an Arc Flash study at your site. An Arc Flash study is a risk assessment of a workplace environment that determines Arc Flash hazards. An expert in electrical safety conducts an assessment to ensure that a company understands the risks their workplace poses to their team and how to protect against them. Assessment providers may also offer training to increase your team’s awareness and options for periodic reviews.
WHAT DOES AN ARC FLASH STUDY INVOLVE?
How big would the bang be? That is the central question that an Arc Flash study seeks to answer. Only by knowing this can you adequately protect your team against the Arc Flash risks of their working environment.
An Arc Flash study will identify areas of low risk, as well as those at high risk of an Arc Flash incident. This allows you to tailor your Arc Flash protection strategy accordingly. The study will also assess the potential severity of injury at a given distance and locate the protection boundary at which there is a severe danger of second-degree burns.
There are many facets to a successful Arc Flash assessment and generally, they are adapted to fit your specific industry and requirements. They can include Arc Flash calculations, fault level studies and comprehensive site surveys.
WHO NEEDS TO CARRY OUT AN ARC FLASH STUDY?
Companies in the UK are not currently obliged to perform Arc Flash assessments on their sites. This is in stark opposition to the USA, where there is more awareness about the dangers of Arc Flash incidents. An Arc Flash study may be optional, but the positive impact on safety within your organisation is likely to be significant.
Arc Flash protective clothing is vital to protect your team should they be at risk. An Arc Flash study will highlight what level of protection is needed, allowing you to make an informed decision about your team’s Arc Flash protective clothing requirements. Arc Flash garments are available from specialist Arc Flash and non-specialist suppliers – we believe that when lives are at stake that you should trust a specialist. All garments that are rated for Arc Flash protection conform to EN Standards, but not all Arc Flash garments are created equal.
Arc Flash protection is found in specialist garments – everything from insulating warm Arc Flash base layers to Arc Flash waterproof jackets and trousers. Enhanced and effective Arc Flash protection comes through wearing layers of protective garments manufactured from inherent fibres and which feature specific Arc Flash resilient components. In addition, the level of protection or Arc Rated Category and other information about the garment’s level of protection should be clearly visible.
Not all Arc Flash protective garments are manufactured the same. Whilst many garments meet minimum standards you need to ensure that the level of protection and quality of garment are sufficient to provide the protection the wearer needs.
Quality Arc Flash protective garments from ProGARM won’t simply allow you to survive an incident, they will significantly reduce the level of injury that is sustained.
We believe when lives are at stake you should trust a specialist. Someone who is using 100% inherent fibres, that develops highly durable garments that will continue to offer a high level of protection throughout the life of the garment and that has a high level of production rigour to ensure a consistent quality and garment traceability.
MITCHELL’S ARC FLASH STORY
Despite many believing an Arc Flash is only a risk in high voltage situations, in reality, an Arc Flash remains a serious danger even when working in low voltage environments.
ProGARM’s specialist Arc Flash PPE protected Mitchell from serious injury
ARC FLASH CAN BE A SERIOUS DANGER EVEN WHEN WORKING IN LOW VOLTAGE ENVIRONMENTS
Whilst working on the Dig Team for construction firm Clancy Group, Mitchell attended a house service where he experienced a cable strike, resulting in an Arc Flash. Thankfully Mitchell escaped without serious injury, thanks entirely to the ProGARM Arc Flash PPE he was wearing at the time of the incident.
Following the Arc Flash, Mitchell was able to return to work, and now in his new role as a Field Performance Manager, one of Mitchell’s priorities is to make sure his team are fully educated on the danger, and to stress the importance of wearing Arc Flash PPE correctly.
We were fortunate enough to meet Mitchell and hear about his experience. The story emphasises why education around the dangers of Arc Flash, as well as correct specification of Arc Flash PPE, is imperative in protecting workers from serious or even life-threatening injury.
ARC FLASH PROTECTION
To ensure others’ safety, we’re sharing Mitchell’s experience to help promote safe working practices for workers across the country who are at similar risk of an Arc Flash.
Choosing the wrong PPE for your team compromises their safety. However, not all Arc Flash clothing is made equal. Additionally, incorrect use of Arc Flash PPE can impact protection levels and leave workers vulnerable should the worst happen.
Understanding the different factors to consider when choosing and specifying the right PPE for your team is the first step in ensuring your team’s safety. That’s why we’ve pulled together a complete guide to Arc Flash PPE, so that you can make the best-informed decision for everyone.
The guide covers 7 factors you might not have considered when choosing Arc Flash PPE for your team, but which are vital in ensuring workers’ safety.
Make sure your team is protected.
Make sure that you’re specifying the right PPE for your team.
Read our free guide on the top considerations when choosing Arc Flash clothing & PPE below and make the best choice for you and your team via the link below ⬇.