The difference between arc flash working distance and approach distance

The difference between arc flash working distance and approach distance

If you work with electricity then you are probably well aware of the hazards (arc flash and shock) but something you might not be so comfortable with is the safe limits of approach and what is referred to as the working distance. In my experience, these distances seem to back seat to the incident energy level of an arc flash or the voltage level of a potential shock hazard but they are critical in determining one's safety. In fact, if they are ignored or misinterpreted then the risk of injury is definitely going to go up.

In this article, we will go over what each of these distances actual mean and why they are important to you or anyone who is working on or near exposed energized electrical parts.

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Arc flash and what to do about it

There is a common thread that runs through many arc flash awareness and qualified electrical worker courses "what do people need to know about arc flash", and while this is important it is not critical for the electrical workers when faced with the hazard on the job. What's critical is knowing what to do about the possibility of an arc flash occurring.

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2 Steps to Arc Flash Safety

I lead an arc flash training session this week with a number of experienced electricians who have worked in industry from five to twenty-five years. Everyone was highly engaged and a real pleasure to teach. What I couldn't get over was the number of intelligent questions that were being asked, some easy to answer and some were quite complicated. But there was one thing that I couldn't stop thinking about, why do all of these highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals have so many unanswered questions about arc flash?

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Did you know an arc flash could cost $15 million?

I recently came across an interesting infographic from GE's mining division that outlines some of the dangers of arc flash as well as potential costs of an arc flash incident. To my surprise, GE shows that one arc flash can cost up to $15 million USD, which today here in Canada would cost more than $20 million dollars! In this article, we will explore how GE came up with these numbers and how prevention carries economic payoff for employers.

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3 ways work boots protect against electrical hazards

Something you may not consider as a vital part of your electrical safety PPE is your work boots. Surprisingly though there are a number of considerations you need to make, and depending on your environment some can be life threatening. Here are 3 ways work boots protect against electrical hazards and some of the factors you should consider when deciding what's right for your workplace.

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How to determine the likelihood of arc flash and shock

In my opinion being able to determine the likelihood of an electrical incident happening is the most important element of your approach to electrical safety. That’s because without this you’ll never quite know for sure if you should be applying any protective measures or not. Which leads to either being exposed to hazards you are not protected from or wearing protection when you are not exposed to hazards! Both outcomes are not desirable.

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How to determine the severity of electrical hazards

In many industrial facilities around the world, workers are exposed to electrical hazards each and every day. In order to assess the risk of a particular job, you need to determine the severity of the hazard and the likelihood of something happening. In this article, I will go over how to determine the severity.

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3 things electricians have wrong about arc flash

The more training I do and the more people I talk to about electrical safety the more I'm amazed at the amount of misinformation there is about arc flash. Chances are if you are an electrician you might be making these very same assumptions that I see all too often and if you don't correct them right away you could be in for a big surprise.

Make sure you remember these 3 things and share them with everyone you know who works in the trade. These aren't mistakes that can be taken lightly.

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Arc flash risk while opening doors and covers

Picture yourself standing in the electrical room of your employer's facility. In front of you are two 600-volt switchgear lineups positioned side by side. The manufacturer, type, bus rating, available fault current, arc flash incident energy levels and just about anything else you can think of are all identical. All except one thing... one switchgear lineup has hinged doors and the other has bolted covers. If you wanted to take a peek inside the equipment (a peek that would expose energized electrical conductors) would the risk of causing an arc flash be the same for each?

As with any assessment of risk, it always seems to depend on who you ask.

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How circuit breaker maintenance impacts arc flash

One thing people take for granted is the incident energy levels posted on the arc flash labels in their facilities. Once the study is complete most people never give it another thought and just assume that the numbers are correct. I'm not saying you need to go around second guessing the engineer who did the calculations, but what I am saying is that over time these numbers are in jeopardy if the equipment is not maintained in a satisfactory manner.

Without the proper maintenance being done on the equipment incident energy levels can go from relatively low to extremely high and there would be no way to tell until it was too late.

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What they don't tell you about arc flash

There is an underlying flaw weaved into the fabric of everything in the electrical safety world. It exists in the standards and has spilled right out into manufacturing specifications and engineering practices.

Equipment and clothing manufacturers, engineers, trainers and just about everyone else you can think of in the electrical safety industry has had this wrong for many years. 

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Ranking protective measures for electrical hazards

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions arc flash is a guy dressed in a moon suit holding a six-foot-long orange rod or you picture something like a scene out of the 2008 movie The Hurt Locker. What you are picturing is a perfectly acceptable protective measure to take to protect yourself from an arc flash, but it falls under the category of personal protective equipment… which should be your last line of defense.

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The dangers of digital multimeters and what to do about them (2018)

The dangers of digital multimeters and what to do about them (2018)

Digital multimeters are one of the most important components of an electrician’s tool kit. They offer a wide range of functionality and allow you to determine what’s going on in your electrical system very quickly. More importantly, they offer a reliable means to determine the absence of voltage, which is an electrician’s most critical step to ensuring their safety.

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Elements of an energized work permit

Last week we discussed why and when you would need to use an energized work permit.

Ok. So now that you’ve come to this point and decided you do in fact need an energized work permit how do you do one? And what are the key element of the permit? This is what we are going to discuss today. There are really three main sections that the permit should have, the request, the job analysis, and the approvals. Let’s go through each one in more detail.

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