“When I looked back and saw that I had no pants on the back of my legs, and literally, the skin was hanging off my arms and my legs, I just knew something horrific had happened.” So begins the story of one worker injured by an arc flash, as recounted by NIOSH’s three-part Arc Flash Awareness video series to demonstrate the serious, life-or-death nature of arc flash injuries.

Arc flash explosions, which occur when an electric current jumps through an air gap between conductors, may exceed temperatures of 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat and energy emitted can result in serious injury, fire, equipment damage and death. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfatal electrical injury most often occurs from contact with the electric circuitry of machines, tools, appliances or light fixtures. Another leading cause includes contact with energized equipment including transformers, motors and switchgear of various voltage ratings.

To provide safety professionals with the best information about preventing and protecting workers from arc flash, EHS Today has compiled the following articles and resources surrounding arc flash:

EHS Today’s sister publication, Electrical Construction and Maintenance (EC&M), recently published an article covering the five common pitfalls in arc flash hazard evaluation that can cause flawed results. “Arc Flash Hazard Evaluation” discusses source impedance; transformer grounding; determining whether to use the IEEE 1584 or NESC Art. 410 standard; bolted fault current vs. arcing fault current; and circuit impedance.

For a look at the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to protect workers from arc flash injuries, read “Taking Steps to Protect Workers from Common Arc Flash Hazards.”

“Assess the electric arc hazards in your workplace and refer to NFPA standards to determine the corresponding PPE required for each task,” the article suggests. “When selecting eye and face protection, choose products with the required arc rating specific to the hazards present. Be sure that eye and face protection also provides exceptional visual acuity so workers can see fine details and perform work safely, a property assured with the use of Z87.1 compliant products.”