Outsmarting arc flash

By T Ford, GE


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Published in:

Electricity+Control, April 2013 (pages 50 – 51)

Email: tim.ford@ge.com


At a presentation on arc flash safety, selective coordination and minimising arc flash dangers in talks around the United States (US) which the author delivers around the United States (US), he met someone who described what he saw firsthand at a hospital retrofit job many years earlier. The team had almost completed their work on energised gear when disaster struck. A piece of sheet metal slipped out of the switchboard top hat and across conductors. The system went down and so did his crew who were thrown across the room, bloodied and battered by the arc flash energy.

The author realised that the arc flash experiments that he had seen in test labs were nothing compared to the real world arc flash incidents that occur all too often. In the US alone, as many as five - 10 arc flashes occur every day - and when you consider incidents globally, no doubt, multiples of that figure.


Take note

  • An arc flash is a potentially lethal phenomenon.
  • Proper protection can reduce the risk of an arc flash.
  • The right arc flash management strategy can reduce the risk of danger if a flash occurs.