An arc flash is a violent electrical explosion is commonly set up by what is called an arcing fault.
Wikipedia definition of arc flash:
An arc flash (also called a flashover), which is distinctly different from the arc blast, is part of an arc fault, a type of electrical explosion or discharge that results from a low-impedance connection through air to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system.
An arcing fault is when current flows between two energized conductors in an electrical panel. If you’ve ever walked across the room and a spark jump from your finger to the door knob; the blue little spark is essentially the same thing.
What causes these arcing faults to happen?
Equipment condition plays a vital role here:
- Is it installed properly within accordance to the National Electric Code?
- Has it been maintained within the manufacturers recommendations?
- Is the door shut?
- Is it free of dust and dirt?
- Are the covers on securely so no water or condensation gets in?
These are catalysts for the arcing fault.
However, the most common reason for arcing faults is human interaction or human error
- Dropping tools or metallic perts into energized buswork.
- Not using test equipment properly or test equipment not rated for the equipment that we’re working on.
- Not using appropriate safety-related work practices
How do we avoid creating arcing faults that ultimately lead to deadly arc flashes?
Certainly maintaining our equipment properly is a great place to start. Secondly, training our employees to be able to recognize arc flash hazards and know precautions to keep themselves safe.
This will also protect against catastrophic damage to your equipment which can shut down production lines and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.