Arc Flash – Giving it the Respect it Deserves

I was involved in an arc flash incident at a local commercial building some years back. I was installing an RCBO on a ’live’ 3 phase sub board when my screwdriver came in contact with two phases. I copped the flash, the bang and some copper in my eyes. The fault current level wasn’t high enough to cause burns to my body or perhaps I was just lucky. But what it did do was snap me out of this WORKING LIVE rubbish.

It made me respect the hazard which I hadn’t done since I start my trade some 20 years ago. The crazy thing to think about is that it took this event to really get me thinking to where I should have been back when I was an apprentice.

What should I have done different? I should have organised a time to have an outage and ELIMINATED the hazard but I didn’t even ask the question. I just did it like a lot of electricians just trying to get the job done quickly. The recent stats from the Electrical Safety Office in Queensland would seem to align with what I’m saying.

I think about the incident quite often to this day and some of the things I realised after the incident was that I could have showed up just an hour or so earlier, isolated the board and done this job without the hazard. Well why didn’t I? Perhaps it was pure laziness, not wanting to do it after hours, just wanting to get it done and perhaps the fear of upsetting the client. I now know what I should have known before – that is that no job is worth serious injury or death. I look at the stats from ESO and think to myself some electricians are still in this mentality, will it take an incident for other people to learnt what I have or will electricians just say “enough is enough” and make the change to working de-energised.

The video below takes a little over three minutes. It reinforces exactly what I have been talking about.

The State of Queensland is the author of this video. It is used in accordance with copyright requirements.

Daniel Halliday

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