The Hazards of Arc-Flash

An electrical arc-flash is a hazardous electrical explosion caused by faulty conditions or a short circuit that can reportedly generate temperatures of up to 35,000ºF — nearly four times the temperature of the surface of the sun. The dangers associated with arc-flash include severe burns and even death. In addition, a facility can also face significant financial consequences resulting from an arc-flash incident as well as costly penal­ties for failure to comply with the established arc-flash regulations.

Beginning January 1, 2009 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will begin enforc­ing the arc-flash code requirements currently outlined by the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), the National Electrical Code (NEC) and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and will require an arc-flash analysis to be performed for all facilities that have personnel working on, or near, live electrical parts.

Failure to comply with NEC, NESC and NFPA standards may result in significant health, safety and fi­nancial risks for a facility and its staff. In addition to facing fines of up to $500,000 a company that fails to comply with arc-flash regulations will also be subject to the financial consequences associated with an arc-flash incident including workers compensation, liability and other significant insurance costs as well as costs associated with production downtime.

Studies have shown that five to ten arc-flash explosions occur each day in the U.S., which reportedly result in approximately one to two deaths per day. To find out more about how you can decrease your facility’s electrical arc-flash risks by complying with OSHA’s standards, please contact Brian Burkhart, PE at or (412) 421-0145.

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