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ARC FLASH PROTECTION PREVENTION IS THE BEST ARC FLASH DANGERS


Electrical equipment is designed to remain safe whilst energised and during normal operational tasks that are within its intended ratings and functionality; however arc flash is a universally recognised risk and presents the following dangers to personnel…


• Severe burning to skin and flesh • Permanent or temporary visual impairment


• Permanent or temporary hearing impairment


• Physical injury from the explosion and ejection of equipment components and molten metal


• Death often resulting from burning via shock, organ failure or secondary infection


The consequences of an Arc Flash extend beyond its dangers to personnel and may also include extensive equipment, financial and business damage.


ARC FLASH CAUSES


The potential causes of Arc Flash fall into the following three groups…


• Live-working (intentional or inadvertent) - work at a location that, at any moment during the work, places personnel in a location that does not have a mechanically fixed barrier to prevent the contact of personnel or their tools to a conductor that is energised or not correctly isolated


• Equipment failure - caused by errors in manufacture, design, specification, installation, maintenance, asset management and operational error


• Human error – an accidental action, an incorrect intended / instructed action or a deliberate short-cut


RISK ASSESSMENT AND REDUCTION


The Arc Flash risk can be assessed using methods common to all types of risk


and involving the consideration of both the likelihood and the potential dangers. Investment in the prevention of the causes of Arc Flash should be prioritised. Prevention provides protection against all possible arc flash consequences. Live working should not be performed unless it can be proven that it is unreasonable to perform the task ‘dead’, and it is reasonable to perform the task ‘live’ and suitable precautions are taken to prevent injury.


HIGH RISK TASKS


The following tasks may carry a high risk of Arc Flash through inadvertent live- working and are commonly performed as part of a larger task…


• Proving a circuit dead • Applying or removing temporary earths on phase conductors


• Performing voltage measurements with a temporary portable voltage meter


• Removal of bolted or hinged equipment doors or covers


COMMON TASKS


The following common tasks are particularly susceptible to Arc Flash resulting from equipment failure and human error and can sometimes be easily avoided…


• Removal or insertion of fuses into a circuit


• Removal or insertion of a circuit breaker, switch, earth, or voltage transformer (also referred as withdrawing or racking)


• Operation of manually operated and powered switches


• Operation of switches with a limited or no short-circuit design capability


CONTROL SOLUTIONS


When mitigation of the potential dangers to personnel is required then solutions should be considered against the following controls listed in order of certainty and significance…


• Increase in the distance between personnel and the location of Arc Flash risk


• Reduction in the duration of the Arc Flash


• Equipment Arc Flash containment tested to a recognised IEC or IEEE standard


• Increase in short circuit impedance (whist maintaining or reducing Arc Flash duration)


• Personal protective equipment (tested to a recognised IEC standard and proven suitable)


TNEI


POSSIBLE PROTECTION An Arc Flash can be defined as an uncontrolled electrical arcing fault through air


www.windenergynetwork.co.uk


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