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Arc Flash & Circuit Breaker Studies

What is an arc flash?

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when a phase (live) conductor momentarily contacts ground or a different phase conductor. In some cases when the conductors are separated, there is enough energy present to make current flow through the air, creating an arc. Arc flashes can be likened to explosions in which arc-plasma fireballs are formed within electrical equipment.

Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F (the surface of the sun is 9000° F), causing an arc blast with rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures. The arc flash/blast will often vaporize  copper conductors, which will expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized, as well as producing flying shrapnel. Arc flashes happen without warning and are lightning quick. The results of this violent event can include destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people.


Accident Costs and Penalties for Noncompliance:

OSHA has levied 6-figure fines in connection with insufficient labelling of electrical hazards. Furthermore, noncompliance carries the risk of far higher monetary damages as well as the burden of knowing an employee or contractor was badly injured or killed due to a preventable incident. The average cost of medical treatment for EACH survivor of an arc flash incident is $1.5 million.  The total costs have been estimated to be $12 - $15 million, which includes the following:

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