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Arc flash safety film reminds sparkies of high voltage danger

By

7 May 2020

A case study film launched today by Queensland's Electrical Safety Office (ESO) highlights just how dangerous arc flash can be.

The film, Arc flash safety—Mark's story, features an experienced electrician who speaks about the life-changing consequences of an incident at work which left him in hospital for three weeks and off work for almost three months.

Through the film, Mark hopes to remind fellow Sparkies of the dangers posed by arc flash and stop anyone else going through what he endured.

“Don't put yourself in situations like I was just because you're trying to please a client, just because you're trying to get the job done faster,” Mark, who preferred not to reveal his surname for personal reasons, said.

“If you've got a wife, kids, family it's just not worth it.

  • “Nothing's worth your life.”

At the virtual launch, ESO Head Donna Heelan said incidents like Mark's are preventable.

“In the electrical industry, working near energised parts can be just as dangerous as live work,” Ms Heelan said.

“From our point of view, the message is simple for all electrical workers—plan the job and always follow your safe work procedures.

“To eliminate arc flash, always turn the power off and isolate the equipment.”

In 2019, there were 10 serious arc flash incidents in Queensland. This case study film retraces how Mark suffered serious burns to his face, arms and legs from an arc flash explosion while he was working on a commercial switchboard. Mark received burns to 12 per cent of his body which required multiple skin grafts. His recovery was slow and painful. All he was doing was removing the insulation from an energised bus bar in a switchboard. Unfortunately, there was an electrical short and it all went wrong.

Back on the job, Mark has one golden rule he would like all electrical workers to live by.

“Don't work live!”

There are 56,000 electrical workers and 11,000 electrical contractors in Queensland. For those in the industry, the ESO has the following safety tips:

  • Prevent arc flash by eliminating the hazard. Turn the power off and isolate the equipment, even if it means rescheduling the work to another time.
  • Arc flash is not just limited to large switchboards—it can also occur in smaller switchboards, electricity supply pillars or large electrical equipment, so plan your work and always follow your safe working procedures.
  • Working near energised parts can be just as dangerous as performing live work—it can cause electric shock, arc flash burns and damage to equipment. The most common causes include:
    • no risk assessment or inadequate risk assessment
    • failure to isolate or isolate upstream
    • failure to test
    • inadequate supervision
    • young workers and apprentices
    • no safe work system
    • competency levels of workers, qualified technical people and supervisors.

You can find more information at WorkSafe.qld.gov.au/electricity and electricalsafety.qld.gov.au.

Ends.

View today's launch of the Arc Safety Film/Webinar here (film starts at 5:07 secs).

Media contact: oirmedia@oir.qld.gov.au or 0478 33 22 00