When it comes to industrial safety, all of us understand the importance of wearing protective gloves or steel toe-capped boots. In fact, most employers wouldn’t dream of letting their teams on-site without adequate protection, and workers themselves are more than clued up when it comes to the latest safety requirements. However, the same can’t be said when it comes to the potentially fatal risk posed by Arc Flash – a relatively misunderstood, but extremely common type of electrical explosion facing a wide variety of sectors, including the plumbing industry.
What actually is an Arc Flash?
Hotter than the sun and louder than a bullet, an Arc Flash is when an arcing fault releases dangerous levels of radiant energy, which vaporizes metal that spews from the arc. The air is super-heated causing pressure waves that can throw individuals across rooms and create a deadly molten shrapnel.
It goes without saying; the extreme temperatures of an Arc Flash can burn clothing and human skin within fractions of a second, even if the operative is situated five or six metres away from the Arc Flash event. It can also result in an explosive pressure wave that can throw workers across the room, and a sound blast that can rupture eardrums. An Arc Flash event is also accompanied by a bright flash which can cause temporary or even permanent blindness.
Treatment for those that survive an incident can require years of skin grafts, hospital stays and rehabilitation – they may never recover sufficiently to regain their lifestyle, so it’s safe to say that choosing the appropriate PPE is key when it comes to Arc Flash safety.
Posing a risk to plumbers
Although electrical in nature, Arc Flash still poses a risk to plumbers working on site. Most plumbers will be aware of the electrical risks when working on an industrial site, however understanding around Arc Flash dangers is often limited.
Worryingly plumbing Arc Flash incidents have been reported worldwide, including one case in which the plumber triggered an Arc Flash whilst working in the vicinity of a 5kV transformer, an electrical generator the size of a fire engine, in the basement of the site.*
How to protect yourself
Arc Flash protection is found in specialist garments – everything from insulating warm Arc Flash base layers to Arc Flash waterproof jackets and trousers.
Enhanced and effective protection comes through wearing layers of protective garments manufactured from inherent fibres and, which feature specific Arc Flash resilient components. Without the correct high-quality garments, protection levels will be compromised. In addition to quality, it’s important to consider longevity of the garment – depending on how its manufactured it may lose its effectiveness. Always look for products that feature Arc Flash protective qualities in the thread, as opposed to just a sprayed material, which will lose its impact over time.
ProGARM is dedicated to protecting lives through the manufacture and supply of exceptional quality ARC Flash and Flame Resistant safety clothing.
Based in East Yorkshire, ProGARM’s key goal is to provide Flame Resistant safety clothing, such as its exceptional Arc Flash clothing range, that offers the ultimate protection from the risks and hazards in which the wearers have to work. What offered the ultimate protection yesterday may not be the protection required today.
The ProGARM UK brand focuses on continual improvement with Arc Flash and Flame Resistant clothing and the company constantly develops the next new concept to protect its customers - the wearers. The fabrics have been developed to be the most comfortable in the market place, while offering the levels of protection required from Heat & Flame, Arc Flash and Static.
For more information on Arc Flash protection visit progarm.com or @ProGARMSafety.