Arc Flash risk: Working in a low voltage environment

Arc Flash risk: Working in a low voltage environment

Arc Flash risk when working in a low voltage environment

It’s readily accepted that when you work in a high voltage environment there are a host of risks to be considered, but there is a widespread believe that low voltage does not pose an Arc Flash risk – that’s simply not true.

Industries, companies and workforces across the world have increased their awareness of Arc Flash risk and protection in recent years, which is a significant step forward. But it also means Arc Flash protection manufacturers and specialists like ProGARM are in demand to protect teams like yours from Arc Flash risks. However, the dangers of Arc Flash when working in a low voltage environment are not as readily understood, which can lead to teams being caught in a false sense of security and putting themselves at risk.

The Arc Flash risk

An Arc Flash incident can occur in low voltage installations such as power supply equipment in commercial buildings, factories or data centres. The risk of injury is also greater because operatives generally have little training in Arc Flash protection and are therefore more exposed than an operative working with Arc Flash risks on a regular basis.

A common misconception in low voltage environments is that transformers and other system impedances can drastically minimise the risk of an Arc Flash incident, but short circuit fault currents can be produced by small distribution transformers and therefore pose a real risk to an operative.

Arc Flash protection against cable strikes

Alongside the dangers of working in a low voltage environment, cable strikes also pose a significant Arc Flash risk. We recently reported on an operative who struck a 120 CNE 3 Phase low voltage cable with a pneumatic drill and triggered an Arc Flash incident. Thankfully, he was wearing Arc Flash protection from ProGARM and was saved from life-changing or potentially fatal injuries.

The following video shows the very real danger of breaking ground and striking an underground cable.

This incident illustrates the dangers of Arc Flash hazards in a low voltage environment and the importance of adequate Arc Flash protection wherever there is a risk of Arc Flash.

Read more about this Arc Flash incident here

Arc Flash risk assessments are an integral aspect of protecting you and your team from a potential Arc Flash incident, whether you are working within a low voltage or high voltage environment.

Knowledge of the risks in any given situation allows appropriate steps to be taken to create safe working practices and protect operatives through education and the provision of adequate Arc Flash resistant clothing.

Don’t be lulled into a low voltage sense of security. Ensure you and your team are aware and properly protected against the risks of Arc Flash incidents in every kind of environment.