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electrical ARC FLASh

What is electrical Arc Flash?

An electrical arc flash is a serious hazard which has the potential for personnel injury, equipment damage and loss of business outcomes. In Australia, it has been found that there is a need for increased awareness and greater education within the Energy Industry to eliminate or minimise the risk of injury to persons from an arc flash. 

Analysis and mitigation

At HEA, we have the expertise and proven experience in carrying out electrical arc flash analysis studies and providing practical advice on utilising multiple high-level risk controls. This allows us to minimise flash hazards in an electrical switchroom to the point that Arc Flash PPE levels can be reduced and provide a safer work environment for operational and maintenance staff.

Examples of activities in a switchroom which involve arc flash risks

  • Racking in and out circuit breakers
  • Switching or isolation of circuit breakers or ACBs
  • Working on control circuits with energised parts
  • Low voltage testing and fault finding
  • Removing panels for inspections and other activities
  • Testing for dead

Common Causes of an electrical arc flash in a switchroom

  • Dust
  • Dropping Tools
  • Accidental Touching
  • Condensation
  • Material Failure
  • Corrosion
  • Over-voltages across narrow gaps
  • Improperly installed parts
  • Worn or loose connections
  • Aging switch gear

The Risks for your business and staff

Both arc flash and arc blast can cause injuries and be potentially fatal. Taking the proper precautions to prevent an arc fault and stay safe if one does occur is important.

  • Compliance – Failing to meet the standards and regulations can delay project start-up and also potentially result in significant fines
  • Injury or Death – You, your co-workers, outside contractors and other third parties.
  • Equipment damage – costly to repair or replace
  • Plant shutdown – reduced productivity, lost revenues, lost costumers
  • Liability – lawsuits, higher insurance premiums, out of pocket costs

Methods to decrease the risk of an electrical arc flash

  • Understand, analyse, and simulate potential energy Levels
  • Reduce available fault currents
  • Shorten clearing times
  • Move people further away
  • Redirect blast energy
  • Prevent the fault
  • Label equipment and train personnel in industry best safety practices
  • Upgrade or replace aging electrical components
  • Utilise the latest technologies in arc fault detection and mitigation

Ongoing servicing

Ongoing monitoring and preventative maintenance of your switchgear and installation ensures that potential hazards can be identified early, with corrective action taken in a planned timely fashion; rather than having to react to catastrophic arc flash explosion that may have serious personal and business consequences.

Electrical Arc Flash hazard management guideline

In 2019 the Australian Energy Council (AEC) released the Electrical Arc Flash hazard management guideline. Given the serious potential for personal injury, equipment damage as well as operational impacts, industry members saw a need to increase awareness and ensure greater education to eliminate, or minimise, the risk posed to electrical workers from an arc flash. You can access this guideline by clicking on the  link below.