Statistic of Arc Flash Incident

Do you know statistically five (5) to ten (10) arc explosions occur in electric equipment every day in the United States and each year more than 2,000 people are treated in burn centers with severe arc-flash injuries?

What would be the actual number of arc-flash incident in Vietnam? Can an unexpected arc-flash incident occur at your working place tomorrow? The answer is Yes, but it is preventable!

What is an Arc Flash?

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. During arc flash event, temperatures may exceed 20,000° C (the surface of the sun is 5000° C). These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures. The arc flash will likely vaporize all solid metal in the equipment. As a result, the arc flash produces fire, intense light, and pressure waves and produces flying shrapnel.

When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people.

What causes an arc flash?

  • Poorly maintained equipment
  • Workers interacting with energized equipment
  • Removal/Installation of circuit breakers or fused switches
  • Removal of bolted/hinged covers on enclosed equipment
  • Workers inadvertently drop tools or equipment components in energized parts
  • Insulation failure due to an accumulation of contaminates, dust, or water
  • Loose connections
  • Unsuccessful short circuit interruptions

Safety compliance for arc flash

In fact, a Plant Manager could be held criminally responsible for a workers injury if the worker did not have proper safety training. In the United States, OSHA and NFPA has specific compliance and guideline for organizations to comply.

OSHA (29 CFR 1910) requires that employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with, and shall use, electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed.

The NFPA® 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace specifically addresses how to deal with arc flash hazards. Article 130.5 states, “An Arc Flash Risk Assessment shall be performed in order to protect personnel from the possibility of being injured by an Arc Flash. An Incident Energy Analysis is the foundation for building a Risk Assessment and Arc Flash Safety Program”.

NFPA 70E 2015 (130.5) requires that the assessment be updated when major modifications or renovations take place and must be reviewed at least every five years.

Beside the United States, many other countries have adopted these practices in their electrical safety regulation in order to reduce the number of incidents related to arc flash.

ARC Flash Hazard Analysis

  1. Collect the data from on-site inspections and evaluations of the electrical distribution by an experienced electrical engineer
  2. Collect the data from on-site inspections and evaluations of the electrical distribution by an experienced electrical engineer
  3. Engineering analysis of data collected by technical team
  4. Build the One-Line model by entering the data into Etap software
  5. Execute the short circuit study
  6. Review AIC ratings of equipment and evaluate compliance with the short circuit study
  7. Execute selective coordination study
  8. Recommended changes to the electrical system (prior to labeling)
  9. Produce warning labels in compliance with NFPA70E, can be customized to the client’s needs
  10. Produce one-line diagrams of the facilities electrical distribution.
  11. Provide training by reviewing the content of the labels and what the information means. Overview of NFPA 70E.

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