Arc Flash

An arc flash is the energy release that occurs during an electrical fault when current flows through the air between two live conductors, causing a short circuit. In other words, Arc Flash is the result of a rapid release of energy due to an arcing fault between a phase bus bar and another phase bus bar, neutral or aground.

  • As a result, an arc flash routinely produces a powerful explosion marked by searing heat, toxic fumes, blinding light, deafening noise and massive pressure waves.
  • An arc flash’s temperature can reach approximately 2800 to 19000 centigrade. The temperature that high can catch fire the clothing and burn the skin of anybody within a few distances. The arc flash can also melt metal, lung, and eyesight damage and even lead to hospitalization or death.
Source of figure by industrial safety & hygiene news

Arc flashes can also be caused by:

  • Sparks due to breaks or gaps in the insulation
  • Equipment failure due to use of substandard parts, improper installation, or even normal wear and tear
  • Dust, corrosion or other impurities on the surface of the conductor

How to control injuries from Arc flash

  • These dangerous areas require electricians and technicians to wear heavy layers of personal protective equipment (PPE) when working on energized equipment according to NFPA 70E and suggested by the arc flash study.
  • Training to be given to all the electricians in taking precautions while working on energized lines and equipment.
  • In order to identify the specific arc flash hazard at a given piece of equipment within a facility, an arc flash study must be performed.
Source of Figure by medium

The result of the arc flash study will categorize the hazard at specific equipment based on the incident energy, as well as identify the Arc Flash Protection Boundary (this is the closest approach allowed before PPE must be worn). Inside the Arc Flash Protection Boundary, a worker must be wearing the proper clothing, or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).


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