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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How close can electrical workers come to electricity (and not get hurt)

Electrical workers need to complete tasks in close proximity to energized electrical conductors at varying voltage levels each and every day. But how do you know what is considered too close? When do you need PPE? And what are the distances that are considered safe for each voltage?

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Equipotential grounding versus parallel grounding

If you are an electrician working with high voltage equipment (anything rated more than 750 volts) then you should really understand the concept of equipotential grounding and how it differs from parallel grounding. I'll be using 3-phase high lines with a neutral as an example because it's easier to visualize, but once you've got the concept the same theory can be applied when working with high voltage metal-enclosed switchgear as well.

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