Consequences of an arc flash

An arc flash is caused by the sudden release of energy, producing vast levels of heat, light, sound, pressure waves and toxic substances. This can result in (serious) personal injury, as well as considerable damage to the installation and production downtime.

Personal injury

The consequences of an arc flash are generally unpredictable and can involve a great deal of suffering. Burns, blindness and hearing damage are the most common injuries. However, there is also a risk of 'invisible' injuries caused by inhalation of copper vapours, and internal bleeding as a result of the blast wave.

Material consequences of an arc flash

An arc flash explosion can damage the surrounding installation. However, a short circuit also leads to high currents in the entire installation. This, in turn, can damage  other areas.

Legal consequences of an arc flash

In the Netherlands, arc flashes are described in the NEN3140 standard: Operation of electrical installations - Low voltage. The NEN3140 standard is considered binding by the Dutch Labour Inspectorate (Inspectie SZW), insurance companies and in jurisprudence. The NEN3140 states that risks should be mapped out to the greatest extent possible (Chapter 4).

In the event of personal injury or even death, failure to comply is seen as a safety offence instead of an accident at work. This implies possible prosecution.

What is the difference between electrocution and an arc flash?

In the event of electrocution, current flows through the body. This is not the case with an arc flash, where current flows via a short circuit between the conductors. An arc flash involves much more energy and is more like an explosion. As a result, an arc flash will often cause serious material damage to the installation.

With all work on an electrical installation, there is a risk of short circuits and, therefore, arc flashes. The risks and consequences of arc flashes are among the greatest challenges to keeping electrical installations safe and operational. Installation management requires more and more specialist knowledge.

Arc flashes can lead to direct financial damage - the cost of replacement parts - but also indirect damage as a result of reduced production capacity. What’s more, an arc flash can result in (serious) personal injury, or even death.

By means of simulation and calculation, HyTEPS can support you in protecting your employees and reducing unnecessary risks and unwanted downtime with the corresponding costs. Read more about it!

Take a look at our arc flash cases!

Be aware. Choose safety.

HyTEPS is expert in het voorkomen van vlambogen

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