Arc Flash mitigation: The legal, moral and financial business case

Arc Flash mitigation: The legal, moral and financial business case

It’s thought that many instances of Arc Flash are generically reported as electrical RIDDOR incidents and is a potential example as to why Arc Flash mitigation isn’t always considered.

Unfortunately, this means it’s impossible to know exactly how many Arc Flash incidents occur each year. Through our own ProGARM studies and industry knowledge though, we believe it’s far more common than most people realise.

The consequences of Arc Flashes can be devastating for those involved as the injuries sustained can be life changing or life ending. But as well as the legal and moral duties to safeguard employees, there’s also a financial case for businesses to properly assess and conduct Arc Flash mitigation.

The consequences of poor health and safety practice

In April 2018, a Derbyshire company was fined £60,000 plus costs of £1,353.90 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (3) and Regulation 14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

The incident, which happened in September 2016, was caused when two employees were working at the company’s foundry to bring power back to one of the furnaces after contractors had finished carrying out repairs.

The team replaced the fuses, shut the panel door (which engaged the interlock) and then tried to close the main switch.

When it didn’t work, they re-opened the panel door and tried to bypass the interlock with a screwdriver, which then caused an Arc Flash incident.

The two employees had been given no specific instructions on how to do the work safely and had to spend two weeks in hospital receiving treatment for their injuries.

Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court also heard how the firm didn’t have any safe systems of work or a permit system in place, that there were no recorded systems or rules for working with electricity and that they allowed employees to work on live conductors without a risk assessment in place.

Having safe systems of work mitigates the risk of incidents occurring and of prosecution

After the hearing, HSE inspector Leigh Stanley said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the injuries sustained by the employees could have been prevented.”

Here at ProGARM, we strongly urge companies to understand the dangers of Arc Flash incidents and take all steps to minimise the risks and undertake proper Arc Flash mitigation.

As a last line of defence, our specialist garments and PPE offer lifesaving protection in the event of an incident with thoroughly researched and tested fabrics, threads, stitching methods and components, such as zips, buttons, press-studs, high-vis tapes and Velcro® brand fasteners.

For more information about our protective clothing, and how it can play a part within Arc Flash mitigation please contact us on +44 (0) 1482 679 600 and speak to one of our sector specialists.