Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dangers of Arc Flash and Arc Flash Prevention: Minnesota Workers’ Compensation

An arc flash is a short circuit through the air. In an arc flash incident, enormous amounts of concentrated energy explodes outward from electrical equipment. Arc flash is extraordinarily dangerous. Five to ten arc flash explosions occur in electrical equipment every day in the United States. Exposure to an arc flash often results in multiple, serious injuries of workers, and in some cases, arc flash leads to their death. Each year, more than 2,000 workers are treated for severe burns as a result of arc flash injuries. Medical treatment for workers severely injured in arc flash incidents can exceed $1 million.

Arc flash occurs when electrical current flows between two or more separated energized conducting surfaces. It can be caused by:
  • Insulation failure.
  • Buildup of dust, impurities, and corrosion on insulating surfaces, which can provide a path for current.
  • Equipment failure due to use of substandard parts, improper installation, or even normal, wear and tear.
  • Birds, insects, and rodents chewing off leads at connections.
  • Human error, including dropped tools, accidental contact with electrical systems, and improper work procedures.
The outward explosion of energy during an arc flash can create enormous pressure waves strong enough to damage hearing, fracture ribs, collapse lungs, or knock workers down. The pressure waves can also send loose materials, such as pieces of damaged equipment, tools, or other objects through the air at speeds in excess of 700 miles per hour. If these items strike a worker, it can easily cause catastrophic injury or death. A high intensity flash can also cause damage to eyesight. An arc flash can also create a ball of gas with temperatures in excess of 5,000 degrees which can ignite clothing and cause severe burns.

Precautions can be taken to reduce the likelihood of arc flash injuries. Whenever possible, employees should de-energize equipment before beginning work. If it is necessary to work on energized equipment, employees should follow safe work practices, should use appropriate tools, and should wear proper personal protective equipment. Depending on the risk involved, appropriate personal protective equipment might include flame-resistant clothing, helmet or headgear, face shield, safety glasses, insulating gloves, and shoes appropriate for electrical work.

If you or a loved one has been injured at work as a result of an arc flash accident, you may wish to enlist the services of a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer. You may be entitled to a variety of benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanency benefits, and rehabilitation benefits. If your loved one died as the result of an arc flash accident, you may be eligible for death and dependency benefits. If your injuries are severe, you should focus on getting better. A Minnesota workers’ compensation can help take the stress out of dealing with the insurance company, and can help guide you through the maze of the workers’ compensation system. Keep in mind that in a Minnesota workers’ compensation case, there are no attorney fees unless there is a dispute, and unless we win for you. If the workers’ compensation insurance company pays all appropriate benefits, there are no attorney fees.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers, call Meuser & Associates at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Visit us at to learn more about Minnesota Workers' Compensation.
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