Arc flash is a specific type of electrical accident that occurs when the
electrical current is sent through the air from one conductor to another—typically
the ground. Arc flash accidents are responsible for roughly 7,000 injuries
a year. Arc flash injuries usually result in burns that can be severe
enough to require hospitalization. In some instances, arc flash accidents
can even prove fatal. According to the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA), arc flash and other electrical injuries are particularly
prevalent in the construction industry. Electrical injuries are one of
the “fatal four” injuries that account for over half of all
fatal construction accidents.
New OSHA Regulations Aimed At Preventing Arc Flash Accidents
On April 1, OSHA adopted a set of new regulations specifically aimed at
preventing arc flash accidents. While the new rules focus specifically
on energy and utility companies, OSHA is encouraging all industries to
follow the new safety guidelines to protect workers from electrical injury.
OSHA requirements for electrical safety include:
- Adopting an electrical safety program with well-defined responsibilities
- Calculating the risk of an arc flash for electrical equipment
- Providing all workers who handle electrical equipment with proper training
about arc flash hazards and safe electrical practices
- Providing all workers with the proper protective equipment (eg. insulated
tools, rubber gloves and shoes, fire-resistant clothing, etc.)
- Ensuring that all equipment that carries an arc flash risk is labeled as such
Common Causes of Arc Flash Injuries
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most arc flash injuries
happen to workers who are not trained electricians. Many janitors and
maintenance people occasionally work on electrical equipment, but without
the proper training and understanding of the risks involved, they are
more susceptible to electrical injury. For this reason, it is important
that employers require all employees who handle electrical equipment to
attend safety training classes.
Human error is another common cause of flash injuries. Sometimes that is
the result of insufficient training. Other times workers are injured because
they are not wearing protective equipment. Outside of human error, arc
flash injuries can be caused by an accumulation of conductive dust inside
the enclosure, dropping conductive items in the enclosure, or a simple
Have You Been Injured in an Electrical Accident?
Arc flash and electrical accidents general result in second- or third-degree
burns. Recovering from burns of that severity often requires physical
therapy and cosmetic surgery such as skin grafting. Medical bills can
begin to pile up and injured workers are usually forced to take time off
of work. As a result, the burn injury place a huge financial burden on
the injured worker and his or her family.
If you have been injured in an arc flash or other electrical accident,
you should consult with a burn injury attorney as soon as possible to
learn about any legal options available to you. Depending on the facts
of your case, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
At Arnold & Itkin, our firm offers free consultations to burn victims
all across the country.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you.