Indiantown, FL – Two workers have been injured in an electrical arc flash accident and fire at the Indiantown Cogeneration Facility in Martin County, Florida. The incident occurred in a motor control center around 8:40 a.m. Both workers were hospitalized for injuries incurred during the arc flash and resulting fire.
The facility is out of service while officials investigate the equipment to determine the cause of the electrical arc flash.
An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.
Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F (the surface of the sun is 9000° F). These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash / blast will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors which will expand up to 67,000 times its original volume when it is vaporized. The arc flash / blast produces fire, intense light, pressure waves and produces flying shrapnel.
There are a variety of reasons why an Arc Flash can occur, but most of them are human error and preventable. Many arc flashes occur when maintenance workers are manipulating live equipment for testing or repair and accidentally cause a fault or short circuit. Improper tools, improper electrical equipment, corrosion of equipment, improper work techniques and lack of electrical safety training are just some of the events that can lead to a devastating arc flash or arc blast.
When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.
Understanding arc flash compliance is often complicated. OSHA mandates that employers identify electrical hazards, warn employees about the hazards and provide them proper protection and training regarding the hazards. While OSHA tells you “what to do” for arc flash, they don’t tell you “how” to do it. The role of NFPA 70E, IEEE 1584 and NEC is to provide guidance on “how” to properly implement the OSHA regulations.
For further information on arc flash compliance requirements and how it impacts your organization, please contact an expert on Martin Technical’s Safety & Compliance Team, or request a quote through our webpage. At Martin Technical, we genuinely care about people and look forward to bringing our professional expertise in Arc Flash analysis, labeling, and training to your facility and employees.
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