Electrical hazards on work sites present real dangers to people. There are complex rules and regulations in place to ensure that people who work in construction and related fields have the information and protective gear they need to stay safe. Not everyone has time to become an expert in electrical safety, so here is a brief guide on comprehensive arc flash protection from head to toe.
Understanding Arc Flash Dangers
The first part of building electricity safety knowledge around arc flashes is understanding the dangers of these electrical events. An arc flash happens when an electrical current escapes into the air, or jumps, and either passes into the ground or back into another existing current. Some industries, such as welding, use controlled arc flashes. Some of the most common causes of arc flashes are:
- Human error
- Equipment failure
- Environmental factors
- Damaged equipment
- Dropping a conductive tool
- Using uninsulated tools
Arc flashes release an explosive amount of heat and energy in just microseconds, which is what makes them so dangerous, and they occur in both high and low-voltage situations. Arc flashes can cause serious injury and even death. The best way to deal with arc flashes is to prevent them and provide thorough training to workers. It’s also crucial that everyone working around electrical systems wears appropriate protective equipment.
Suiting Up With the Right PPE
Choosing the right personal protective equipment for the situation can mean the difference between serious injury and safety. Different electrical systems and setups require different levels of protection. Most projects need to begin with an arc flash analysis to determine how much Arc Thermal Protective Value the PPE needs to be rated for as well as what the Energy Break-Open Threshold needs to be. When these factors are clear, then it’s time to stock up on the following protective equipment:
- Hard hats
- Arc flash hoods
- Arc flash face shields
- Rubber insulating gloves
- Arc flash coveralls
- Insulated footwear
Workers need all of these individual pieces of equipment to stay safe when working with and around electricity. People can also choose to purchase an equipment set that includes a hood, coat, and overalls. Sets are usually rated fairly high in terms of electrical protection. In other instances, workers might also need unique items for their industry or for the situation, including things such as hair and beard nets and fall protection.
Saving Lives With Proper Preparation
Since human error plays a major role in most arc flash incidents, project leaders can save lives by making sure their crew members are properly trained in electrical safety. OSHA sets minimum training requirements so that anyone working around or with an electrical system will understand the safety procedures and practices needed for that specific job. Project management should enforce all rules and regulations regarding training and safety equipment on the job, but it’s also every individual’s responsibility to recognize electrical hazards and bring attention to dangerous working conditions.
Ensure the safety and security of your job sites with Construction Safety Experts! Electrical safety is paramount and can save lives while creating a more comfortable work environment for your employees. Take advantage of our comprehensive one-day electrical safety training course to get all your staff on the same page. Don’t wait, call us today at (919) 463-0669 for a consultation quote and take the first step towards a safer workplace!