Electrical Workers and Arc Flash
Electrical Workers, who are they, there are different types of electrical workers, they can be;
- Electrical Engineer (Various disciplines)
- Electrician (Domestic and light commercial)
- Electrician (Industrial and Mining)
- Cable Jointer
All of the above, at some time, could be exposed to arc flash hazards. However, many do not have the knowledge, skills and training to deal with arc flash hazards. The question is, what knowledge is required to be able to manage arc flash risks?
Those exposed to an Arc Flash should understand'
- Arc Flash definitions
- 800 Amp and above High Current Circuits
- Large Fault Currents (kiloamperes or kA)
- Incident energy
- How time and distance effects Incident Energy
- Arc Flash PPE and selection of the PPE
- impedance from the source of supply
- Properties of an Electric arc
- Arc Flash Hazard Risk Assessment/Management
All of the above are essential to managing arc flash hazards and mitigation.
Lack of Vocational Training
Vocational training and knowledge differ depending on the types of electrical worker, let’s look at a few instances.
The Electrical Engineer may have majored in electrical protection, light current circuit design etc. Then that engineer gets promoted/moved to look after a Power System, their background knowledge would be insufficient to manage arc flash risks.
Electrician (Domestic and Light Commercial)
The apprenticeship curriculum is designed to cover the knowledge where most electricians will be employed. This is in the Domestic and light commercial field and in many cases the hazards of arc flash are minimal. This being due to the high impedance to the source and low fault levels. However, as an electrician, they may be called to a situation, where an arc flash hazard does exist. Unfortunately, most of these electricians would not have the knowledge to be able to assess and manage arc flash hazards.
Electrician (industrial and Mining)
Most of the electricians will have received the same apprenticeship training as domestic electricians, many will have acquired skills in the high current field, however, there will be many more that only understand the basics. The majority would still be lacking the skills to assess and manage arc flash hazards.
Linespersons work a lot of their time in high fault current situations. However, even if they know about arc flash, they lack the skills to assess and manage arc flash hazards.
The cable jointers are in the same position as linespersons.
At present most electrical workers would lack the skills required to assess and mitigate the risks associated with an arc flash hazard. This contravenes Occupational Health and Safety Legislation, both in Australia and the United Kingdom.