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Arc flash, main risk that an PPE must protect in electrical companies.

By 23 February, 2017January 14th, 2020Arc Flash
arc flash risk manikin Marina Textil

In electrical companies, the main risk in the workplace is the arc flash. The main consequences of arc flash are flames, heat, molten metal splashes and UV light, that is why they require workers to wear very technical protective equipment (PPE) to lessen the risk of injury.

If a worker is affected, they can suffer major burns, serious injuries or even death. The level of burns can decrease a lot by using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

An electric arc refers to the electrical discharge that is formed between two electrodes subject to a difference in potential. During the discharge, a great amount of light and heat are produced. Both phenomena can be extremely destructive, since exposure to excessive heat can cause burns. The risk of exposure to an arc flash is different to the risk of exposure to an electric discharge or electrocution.

An electric arc event ejects large amounts of energy that can be fatal. The arc produces an ionization of the air

Risks from an arc flash or arc discharge:

  • Heat arc flash.
  • Pressure: The pressure wave of the explosion can throw anyone near it up in the air.
  • Clothes: Due to the intense radiant heat and heat, clothing can be burned at several meters.
  • Explosion of high pressure air.
  • High luminescence.
  • Metal splashes.

Main injuries caused by arc flash:

  • Fatal burns to the employee can occur if they are near the arc, as temperatures up to 20.000 ºC or 35.000 ºF (four times the surface temperature of the sun) occur. These can occur up to 3 meters away.

Normal skin temperature is 32.5 °C / The skin starts to burn at >44°C / It burns instantly at 72°C.

Burn wound principles:

The depth of the burn is a measure of its severity:

  1. Degree burn outer layer of the skin. Burns. No blisters appear.
  2. Degree burn middle layer of the skin. Blisters appear. The skin can regenerate.
  3. Degree burn deep layer of the skin. Gray skin. Carbonization. The skin does not regenerate.

Protective clothing against the thermal hazards of an arc flash must comply with the European standard IEC 61482-2 and/or American standard ASTM F1959 (Open Arc).

We discuss the test methods of these standards in this post: Arc Ratings ATPV vs. EBT : Best for Electric Arc Flash Protection

The different climate conditions of the work environment should be considered in the definition, choice and design of the fabrics and garments. It is very important to take into account everything that concerns the making of PPE. It is mandatory to use fire-retardant yarn in the garment.

Marina Textil has a collection of certified flame retardant fabrics with good protection values against the arc flash, according to European standards (IEC 61482-1-2) and American standards (ASTM F1959).

If you need more information about the fabrics with which the operational uniforms must be made, do not hesitate to contact us.


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