An electric arc occurs when accidental contact breaks the intended path of current forcing it to travel to the ground through air. Disastrous even deadly injuries ensue, as temperatures rise to approximately 20,000° Celsius. Taking the right precautions and getting workers into proper flame retardant clothing advances the chance of walking away from a possibly devastating event.

What sort of damage can occur?

Within less than a second this very dangerous phenomenon unfolds entailing harmful effects due to the release of energy generated. These physical effects of an arc flash may include; burns, partial or total hearing and/or eye-sight impairment, inhalation of toxic gases, and injuries due to ejected materials.


As mentioned, an electric arc may cause severe injuries partly due to the extreme high temperature levels it reaches. The flames from the explosion can cause all types of burns, up to 3rd degree burns including carbonization. In our effort to mitigate burns, ROOTS also works closely with the Dutch Burns Foundation to stimulate the research to burn wound treatment.


Hearing or eye-sight impairment

The explosion caused by an electric arc conceives tremendous shock and sound waves. The noise produced by an electric arc could go up to 165dB easily rupturing eardrums as the sound levels resemble a fighter jet passing by at close range.

Materials expelled during the explosion form an acute danger for the most sensitive parts of the human body, e.g. the eyes. Materials with great kinetic energy could effortlessly penetrate the cornea leading to eye-sight impairment. The emission of blinding light may also sustain injuries to the eye.


Inhalation of toxic gases

The emission of fumes as the result of burnt materials within a switchgear can be highly toxic. The inhalation of these gases or vapour lead to irreversible health effects.


In which industry sectors is Arc Flash a particular hazard?

The dangers of an electric arc lurk within a whole range of industries, for example in generating stations and utilities, but also within the petrochemical and rail sectors. Arc flash protective clothing can help prevent serious burns and permanent injury to those working in these industries.

ROOTS considers the following industry sectors as high potential risk and urge anyone operating within to take precautions; Power Generation, Utilities, Wind Energy, Petrochemicals, Rail, Transport and Industrial Electrical.


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