Arc Flash Hazard Analysis

It is estimated that 5 to 10 arc flash and blast explosions occur in electrical equipment every day in the United States, with 2,000 people suffering severe burns each year. Many arc flashes and short circuits occur when maintenance workers are manipulating live electrical equipment for testing or repair and accidentally cause a fault. These events can be catastrophic, but they are also completely preventable with proper arc flash labelling, boundary markers, procedures, and protection equipment—all of which can be provided by our expert analysis.

What is an arc flash?

An arc flash is an ignited bridge of electricity between two electrodes, usually during a fault or short circuit condition, which releases thermal heat, toxic fumes, pressure, blinding light, and sound waves.

Arc flash temperatures can reach as high as 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit—almost 4 times the temperature of the surface of the sun.

Due to the force of the explosion and the intense heat, burns, concussions, collapsed lungs, hearing loss, shrapnel injuries, and broken bones are common. Death can and does occur, as well.

For a data center, electric, industrial or chemical plant, it can mean the loss of millions of dollars of man-hours, lawsuits, fines, equipment damage, and facility downtime.

Why do arc flashes occur?

There are a variety of reasons why an arc flash can occur, but most of them are human error and preventable. From maintenance workers manipulating live electrical equipment for testing, to accidentally causing a short circuit, improperly trained contractors are the number one culprit. But it’s up to you and your facility managers to clean up the devastation that can occur as a result of an arc flash.

While wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing can protect a worker in some cases, in most instances, PPE is a last line of defense. The force of an arc blast can knock workers off elevated platforms, blow doors off hinges, and throw shrapnel across a room, for which PPE provides little protection.

The advantages of a proper arc flash hazard analysis

Resources online and webinar courses claim to prepare you to conduct your own arc flash study, however the ramifications of doing so are dire—you are literally taking your life and that of your workers in your own hands!

Conducting an arc flash study is a complex process and requires engineers familiar with conducting power analysis studies and arc flash analysis in particular. Properly collecting all the data is the first phase of the project, which is difficult for anyone to do if they are not first familiar with the potential pitfalls of such an analysis.

An arc flash hazard analysis should only be performed by experienced and qualified electrical engineers knowledgeable in power system engineering, IEEE 1584, NFPA 70E and arc flash studies.

Beyond technical qualifications, in-house assessments are something that plant managers or engineers have little time for, often resulting in the project not getting completed or conditions of the electrical equipment changing before completion, making the results void.

The biggest reason not to do the study internally is the cost of getting it wrong.

If someone is injured or killed due to an arc flash and the analysis was incorrect, the liability will rest with the person or group that performed the study.

Trust the electrical engineering experts

Bay Consulting Engineers are fully qualified to conduct an arc flash hazard analysis, demarcate arc flash boundaries, provide equipment with arc flash labels, and determine protective equipment.

With over 20 years of experience visiting and consulting with many multinational companies and data centers, we are experts in the field.

Contact Bay Consulting Engineers now for a free consultation of your facility.