If you live in New York and work with electrical equipment, you may be in danger of injury from an arc flash event. In fact, data from burn centers suggests that between one-third and more than one-half of all on-the-job burns are arc flash-related. Arc flashes can cause severe injuries that can often be fatal.
Several bodies address the issue of arc flash injuries and safety standards that prevent them. Among them are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Fire Prevention Association, and Underwriters Laboratory. Arc flash accidents can be permitted through both the actions of the individual working in the vicinity of the device that may cause an arc flash, through the design of the device itself, and through the enclosure accessories.
Prevention tips for workers
One of the most important ways to prevent an arc flash injury is to stand a safe distance away from the hazard. What constitutes a safe distance varies based on the voltage and overall danger. The NFPA specifies what these distances should be. Setting them apart with tape or another visual makes it easier for workers to comply. Equipment should also be clearly marked with a hazard label that includes which level of personal protective equipment the worker should be wearing. The other important step that workers should take is following OSHA guidelines for lockout/tagout. This includes ensuring that any equipment is turned off when work is done on it. In addition, training should be designed based on the information provided by an arc flash assessment that indicates how likely an arc flash is and how serious it would be.
Workers who are injured in an arc flash event are usually eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, these benefits do not cover all of a victim’s losses. In some cases, it is possible to file a separate personal injury claim if the accident was caused by the negligence of a non-employer third party.