New safety film highlights arc flash danger - 18.5.20

A new case study film launched through video conference by Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office (ESO) highlights the dangers posed by an arc flash. The film, Arc Flash Safety – Mark’s Story, tells the story of an experienced electrician who talks about how his life changed following an incident at work which left him hospitalised for three weeks and off work for almost three months.

Mark hopes that his story will remind fellow Sparkies of the dangers posed by arc flash and stop anyone else going through what he endured. “Don’t put yourself in situations like I was just because you’re trying to please a client, just because you’re trying to get the job done faster.”
Mark, who preferred not to reveal his surname for personal reasons, said “if you’ve got a wife, kids, family it’s just not worth it. “Nothing’s worth your life.”

During the virtual launch, ESO Head Donna Heelan said these incidents can be prevented. “In the electrical industry, working near energised parts can be just as dangerous as live work,” she said. “From our point of view, the message is simple for all electrical workers – plan the job and always follow your safe work procedures

“To eliminate arc flash, always turn the power off and isolate the equipment.” There were 10 serious arc flash incidents in Queensland in 2019. The case study shows how Mark suffered serious burns to his body from an arc flash explosion while he was working on a commercial switchboard. He received burns to 12 per cent of his body and required multiple skin grafts.

“Don’t work live,” says Mark.

ESO provided the following safety tips to electrical workers and electrical contractors:
Prevent arc flash by eliminating the hazard. Turn the power off and isolate the equipment, even if it means rescheduling the work to another time.
Arc flash is not just limited to large switchboards—it can also occur in smaller switchboards, electricity supply pillars, or large electrical equipment, so plan your work and always follow your safe working procedures.

Working near energised parts can be just as dangerous as performing live work—it can cause electric shock, arc flash burns, and damage to equipment.

The most common causes include:
– no risk assessment or inadequate risk assessment
– failure to isolate or isolate upstream
– failure to test
– inadequate supervision of young workers and apprentices
– no safe work system
– competency levels of workers, qualified technical people and supervisors

Source: OHS News