arc flash protection

When workers commit to doing different jobs at the workplace, they’re often met with unplanned dangers that they need to protect themselves from. Most of these injuries are often suffered on the hands, from cuts and abrasions to electric shocks. One such shock comes in the form of arc flash. Arc flash is the incident when a flash of electric currents strays from their original path and travels through the air from one conductor to another. The results of this are dangerous and if someone is in close proximity to the flash, they may suffer extremely serious life-threatening injuries.

All the employees working around electrical equipment are always at risk of being affected by an arc flash occurrence at least once. There are 4 dangerous elements of an arc flash: intense light, pressure waves, acoustic energy, and thermal energy. A blast of arc flash usually takes less than one second and leads to a flash fire explosion i.e. a fast-moving flame caused by diffuse fuel e.g. dust, gas, or vapor. When a worker is close to the area where this incident occurs, they can face serious injuries or even death.

This is the reason why employees need to have access to Arc Flash gloves in order to be protected from serious dangers. It’s also important to determine whether all your arc-rated gloves are flame-resistant, though it’s not necessary for your flame-resistant gloves to be arc-rated. When wearing these gloves, you need to make sure that you’re complying with NFPA-70 Standards and OSHA’s requirements of Arc Flash protection.

Wearing arc-rated gloves is the main line of defense against severe injuries, and it’s legally an employer’s job to provide them to their employees. Furthermore, all employees must be properly trained to wear their arc-rated gloves properly, the gloves should be of appropriate size and comfortable. Below are some further guidelines on Arc Flash and the benefits of arc-rated gloves.

Causes of Arc Flash & Severity of Injuries

According to OSHA, the following are the main causes of Arc Flash occurrences:

  • Dust
  • Dropping Tools
  • Corrosion
  • Faulty wiring
  • Condensation
  • Material failure

While the following 3 principles determine the severity of Arc Flash injuries:

  • Temperature
  • Time for the circuit to brake
  • The proximity of the person to the hazard

It’s not uncommon for an employee impacted by Arc Flash to never regain their former quality of life. It’s a dangerous incident that can cause life-threatening damage and financial debts.

NFPA’s Protection Boundaries for Arc Flash

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed specific boundaries for a worker to keep in mind when working in areas that have a major electrical energy source. These boundaries are:

  • Flash Protection Boundary
  • Limited Approach Boundary
  • Restricted Approach Boundary
  • Prohibited Approach Boundary

In this, the first is the farthest boundary from the source of energy. If an Arc Flash incident occurs, employees standing at this boundary will be exposed to the most curable 2nd-degree burns. Whereas the last is the closest boundary, which is almost equal to being in contact with the Arc Flash material.

Benefits of Arc Flash Gloves

Protects from the Possibility of Explosion

Arc Flashes can involve explosions that occur due to the electrical equipment’s surrounding air being ionized. This can be due to particles like dust, corrosion, or other elements that become a tipping point for causing an explosion. The NFPA70E guidelines recommend that an FR protective layer of clothing must be worn while working in such environments so that employees can stay safe from any risk of explosions and be protected.

Safety from the Threat of Heating

When an Arc Flash event occurs, temperatures can rise up to 35,000 °F. This energy transfers to nearby materials and surfaces and even one’s clothing. The heat generated by these temperatures can travel several surrounding feet easily and, if you’re not wearing the right gloves and equipment to protect yourself, you will end up getting injured or worse as a result. Having access to proper gloves can save you from this impact.

Saves from Particles & Chemicals

While employees in an Arc Flash incident zone are already at risk of being injured, the pressure of an Arc Flash wave is much worse and can cause any person to fall yards behind, resulting in a number of injuries. Furthermore, if their surroundings have dangerous chemicals and equipment, they may get exposed to their hazardous materials and further suffer through a number of dangers. This is another thing that Arc Flash protective equipment, like gloves, can keep workers safe from this level of damage.

A Note for Employees

Though it’s an employer’s job to provide the right Arc Flash-rated gloves and protective equipment, it’s the job of the employee to properly get trained on the use of such gloves and learn the basics of working in a highly electrically charged environment. This includes not going close to a charged environment unless a worker is qualified and trained to do so.

  • Qualified person

One who has proper skills and has received formal training in managing, maintaining, and knowledge of electrical equipment and environments with high shock hazards.

  • Additional Requirements

  • Qualified people must also be trained in the following areas:
  • Skills to distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of equipment.
  • The skills necessary to determine the nominal voltage of exposed parts.

All the above-given requirements and benefits are important for you to know for the sake of your employees. As an employer, you need to provide the right protective gloves to keep your workers safe from the risk of being exposed during an Arc Flash event. If any horrible accidents still end up occurring, that’s something you or your employees can’t really control. But these incidents won’t occur if you and your employees are trained to deal with the adversities and responsibly carry out all your duties to keep the workplace safe from dangerous hazards.

If you need more information regarding this or any other topic related to workplace protection, visit Elite-Leather Creations for information.

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