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Arc Flash Training with Hands-On Learning: Do My Employees Need It?

You answer to so many people in a typical day, having to justify expenses, balance individual needs, increasing productivity. Why should you take time out of your busy day to register any of your workers for arc flash training? You may be sure nobody in your plant is exposed to high voltage. You may even be worried about answering to someone who questions your budget. Consider this, though: sending an entire facilities crew — or an entire building’s workers — for Arc Flash Training could be less expensive than a single payout from a tragic accident.

What is Arc Flash?

An arc flash is an unexpected electrical connection that creates an electrical arc and turns surrounding air into plasma (ionized gases). An arc flash can reach temperatures of 35,000 degrees, roughly 3.5 times the sun’s surface temperature. It can happen at the speed of light, so a worker standing in front of a circuit breaker panel or junction box has no chance to get out the way of the arc flash. Second- and third-degree burns are inevitable results from bare-skin exposure to an arc flash. Worse, the arc flash can melt synthetic fabrics to skin.

The invisible arc blast is a pressure wave delivered as a crippling blow of thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch. This is enough force to push a worker off a ladder, collapse a worker’s lungs, or rupture eardrums.

The combination of fire and pressure will blow steel electrical cabinets apart, sending metal and plastic shrapnel into a worker’s body.

How does Arc Flash Impact Industrial Workers?

Arc flash can occur unexpectedly because of a carelessly dropped metallic tool, or for other, less visible reasons:

  • Dust in the air
  • Accidental contact using electrical probes during routine testing
  • Corrosion on poorly maintained equipment
  • Insulation gaps that cause sparking

Any industrial worker whose job description includes opening electrical cabinets or circuit breaker panels is at risk of arc flash injury. Any worker who supervises electrical workers is also susceptible. Because arc flash can carry across large spaces, anyone who works around electrical equipment and cabinets is also a potential victim.

The safest way to prevent accidental injury or even death is to de-energize whatever equipment is being repaired, maintained, inspected or serviced. In today’s competitive environment, such scenarios are not always possible. This leaves training as the best defense against arc flash incidents at your job site.

How can Workers Benefit From Safety Training?

Anyone can watch a YouTube video. It is not enough to assign electrical workers to watch videos and assume they have proper training to be alert to arc flash. If it falls to you to ensure the safety, productivity and efficiency of your employees, you need to send them for arc flash training.

Properly trained workers will know the safety procedures, the correct safety gear, tools and personal protective equipment (PPE), and conditions that could lead to arc flash.

Properly trained workers who appreciate the seriousness of arc flash will actually work more productively, with more confidence, because of their safety training. One common safety strategy that can save lives is the Stop, Look, Listen and Smell method.

Stop, Look, Listen and Smell provides every level of industrial worker with a quick way to assess a potential arc flash. Before proceeding with work, the employee stops to consciously assess the area, looking for potential arc flash contributors. The worker listens for unusual electrical activity, and smells the air for the characteristic ozone or the smell of burning insulation.

That is only one safety procedure; proper training with an outside agency fully qualified to deliver hands-on education with plenty of other safety advice that will help to prevent injuries and return your employees home to their families each night.

What Specific Benefits Does Hands-On Training Provide?

Every branch of our nation’s military practices for days we hope never come. Fire departments, emergency rooms, and law enforcement officers all train diligently so that they reduce risk. Not even one of these vital services trains by watching videos or sitting at tables exclusively.

Hands-on training is the only effective, practical way to gain experience without risk on issues like these:

  • Simple / Mechanical lockout/tagout (LOTO)
  • Electrical LOTO
  • Checking amps and checking volts
  • Changing fuses
  • Motor Control Center (MCC) Troubleshooting

Arc Flash Training

NTT Training offers the foundation seminar for electrical qualification, NFPA 70E: ARC FLASH ELECTRICAL SAFETY, updated to the 2015 NFPA 70E. Sending your workers to this seminar and workshop will pay handsome dividends for your organization from increased worker efficiency, more satisfied workers, less downtime, fewer injuries, and better productivity. If you are interested in learning more about NTT’s Arc Flash Training, or any of the other fine training offerings from NTT, contact us today!

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