Arc Flash & Electrical Safety News

Blog Author Steve Hudgik

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Is Your Electrical PPE Adequate?

Yesterday I recommended an article in Occupational Hazards magazine that presented a variety of problems with OSHA's proposed rules to reduce electrical burn injuries. Today I'm recommending an article from Maintenance Technology magazine that provides more details, including information based on two recent IEEE papers.

This article looks at the recent scientific research into what happens during an arc flash. The article concludes that:

"Recent research into arc flash phenomena, however, indicates that workers could be under-protected against the heat generated during an arc flash event. Test results presented at IEEE conferences and at the 2007 IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop show that different configurations of electrodes (conductors) yielded heat energy higher than current predictions due to the directional nature of the arc development. Additionally, initial tests of PPE, when placed within this directional plasma flow, did not provide the level of thermal protection predicted by its APTV."

An interesting result of the research is that it shows the design of electrical equipment has a major impact on the severity of the arc flash. Improved designs can reduce the intensity of the arc flash by 50%. It also shows that current-limiting fuses may reduce the heat energy to workers exposed to the plasma flow from an arc flash.

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