Each year, 2,000 workers are admitted to burn centers for extended injury treatment caused by arc flash. Arc flash is an electric current that is passed through the air when insulation or isolation between electrified conductors is not sufficient to withstand the applied voltage. The flash is immediate, but the results can cause severe injury.
IEEE and NFPA both recognize the significant threat posed by arc flash hazards and have joined forces on an initiative to fund and support research and testing to increase the industry and public awareness of arc flash. The research produced through this collaboration will help improve electrical safety standards, predict the hazards associated with arching faults and accompanying arc blasts, and provide practical safeguards for employees in the workplace.
IEEE and NFPA are asking for support to help fund arc flash research. The combined effort to identify, understand, and learn how to mitigate or protect employees in the workplace against the potential "electrical arc flash hazards" is estimated to cost $6-$7 million (US)."
Though electrical incidents represent a relatively small percentage of all work-related incidents; they are disproportionately fatal and, in the case of burns, they may result in extended hospitalization and rehabilitation. The most frequently identified consequences associated with an arcing fault injury are thermal burns, shrapnel injuries, and hearing and sight impairments. In addition, electrical arcs often cause workers to fall, resulting in disabling injuries or death. In such cases, the cause of injury or death may be recorded as a fall, and not electrical, further distorting the real hazard.
IEEE and NFPA have agreed to collaborate on an initiative to fund and support research and testing to increase the understanding of the arc flash phenomena. The results of this project will provide information that can improve electrical safety standards, predict the hazards associated with arcing faults and accompanying arc blasts, and provide practical safeguards for employees in the workplace. The IEEE/NFPA Arc Flash Collaborative Research Project is all about protecting people.