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Arc Flash Safety: Fire, Electrical, Explosive--Oh My!

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 @ 02:00 PM

What is “Arc Flash?”

Arc flash is a phenomenon that results from an arcing fault, where an electric current strays from its intended path and travels through the air causing an electrical explosion. Between the instantaneous explosion and the resulting radiation and shrapnel, an arc flash often causes violent and serious results;

  • Arc Flash safety, arc flash training, nfpa 70e classSevere skin burns
  • Respiratory system damage
  • Hearing damage
  • Eye/face injuries
  • Even death


What Causes Arc Flash?

  • Dust
  • Sparks from dropping tools (Unless you use intrinsically safe tools *cough cough*)
  • Accidental touching
  • Condensation
  • Material failure
  • Corrosion
  • Faulty installation

How Bad Can It Be?Arc Flash Training, NFPA70E Class

Arc flash exposure is of a violent nature. It causes serious injury and in some cases even death. Some injured employees never regain their past quality of life. Medical care is quite costly, sometimes in excess of $1,000,000. Here are the typical results from an arc flash:

  • Burns (especially non-fire retardant clothing, as it may burn onto your skin)
  • Fire (possibility of it spreading throughout the building)
  • Projectiles (molten metal, about 1,900 degrees F)
  • Blast pressure (roughly equivalent to a Volkswagen Beetle hitting your body instantly)
  • Sound blast (think about a gun being shot right next to your ears/face)
  • Heat (About 4 times the surface of the sun)

This is a great segue into burns. Most of us have had a sunburn or two, but do you know what a third degree burn is? More importantly, do you know what to do in a situation where you or someone you know has been burned? Remember, the three goals of treating burns, no matter what degree, are to 1.) Prevent shock, 2.) Ease pain, 3.) Reduce the risk of infection. Let’s now talk about how to treat burns at each degree.

First degree burn:

  1. Red and sensitive to touch
  2. Minimal skin damage, only to outer layer (epidermis)
  3. Causes pain, redness swelling
  4. Example: Sunburn

electrical safety, electrical safety trainingSecond degree burn:

  1. Skin reddens intensively and blisters
  2. Damage to both outer skin and second layer (epidermis and dermis)
  3. Causes severe pain, redness, swelling, blistering and chance for infection
  4. Example: Steam burn or chemical burn


Third degree burn:

  1. Charring of skin (leathery), chest pains, rapid heartbeat/breathing
  2. Damage extends deeper into tissues (epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis)
  3. Causes extensive tissue destruction, may numb skin, and extensive scarring usually results
  4. Example: Fire, explosive or electrical burn

Treatments of burns, by level:

  • First degree
    • Hold under cold water for a couple of minutes
    • Apply ointment/burn cream
    • Wrap with sterile gauze
    • Take a pain reliever (aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen), if necessary
  • Second degree
    • Cool the burn (cold water; 10 minutes); if blisters are open, do not apply water!
    • Do not apply burn cream or ointment. Though, you should wrap in a sterile gauze bandage
    • Seek medical attention
  • Third degree
    • This requires immediate medical attention
    • Third degree burns may require hospitalization (burn unit)

***Remember, never use ice on a burn. It prevents healing by decreasing blood flow and causing a person’s body to become too cold and can cause further damage to the wound.

Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Workers

The good news about arc flash is that there are a number of ways of protecting yourself from the threat of these hazards. In fact, the most effective and fool-proof way to eliminate the risk of electrical shock or arc flash is to simply de-energize the equipment. Here are a few other ways:

  • Arc Flash Safety, NFPA70E SafetySafe work practices
  • Insulation
  • Guarding
  • Barricades
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)
  • Grounding (secondary protection)

Remember, personal protective equipment (PPE) is the last line of defense. PPE cannot prevent all injuries and will only lessen the impact of an arc flash. In many cases, the use of PPE has saved lives or prevented serious injuries so don’t neglect it!


Only qualified persons (one who has received proper training) should work on or near circuits. If you have any questions regarding arc flash, leave a comment or contact STS directly at Contact STS. If you are looking for an NFPA 70E “Arc Flash” course, click the button below to find out how you can become a qualified person through Safety Training Services, Inc.

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Tags: arc flash safety, arc flash training, nfpa 70e class, osha electrical safety, electrical safety training

Electricity & Office Safety: Listen & Learn, Don't Sizzle & Burn

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 @ 04:00 PM

History of Electricity

600BC: A mathematician in Greece named Thales (one of the 7 sages of Greece) is thought to be the first person to discover what we know as static electricity by rubbing amber with animal fur.

Late 1500s: An English scientist, William Gilbert (one of Queen Elizabeth’s physicians) found out that amber was not the only conductor. He added many more substances to the list and coined the term electricity.

Early 1700s: Stephen Gray discovered conductivity and that even water could be electrified. Charles Du Fray, in Paris, performed experiments based on Gray’s work and came to the conclusion that everything and everybody contained electricity (leaving out lightning, ironically).Benjamin Franklin, Electrical Safety, Office safety

1752: Ben Franklin conducted his famous kite experiment. In the process, he proved that pointed rods conduct electricity better than balls do and that lightning is a form of electricity. Franklin then invented lightning rods and sold them throughout colonial America.

1870s: Thomas Edison built a DC (direct current) electric generator in America and later provided all of New York’s electricity.


1800s: Nikola Tesla invented the AC (alternating current) system for electrical transmission. This is what is used today over DC due to its many advantages; the biggest is that you can generate much more power from AC than DC. He also invented motors that run on AC and designed the world’s first Hydroelectric Plant.

Nikola Tesla, Electrical Safety, Office SafetyThe short answer to “What is electricity?” as OSHA states it, is the flow of electrons though a conductor. Since atoms make up any and everything, and electrons are particles that make up an atom, electrons are therefore everywhere. Because of this, electricity is everywhere. We are going to discuss how this affects us and how it is paramount to take a few extra steps in our daily lives and remember a few tips to keep ourselves safe with regards to electricity and electrical apparatuses.

Electricity is conducted through some materials better than others. Returning for a moment to the definition given earlier about electricity being the flow of electrons through a conductor, we know that conductors are materials that loosely hold electrons. Great examples of these are most metals: copper, aluminum, or steel. Other things hold electrons very tightly, these are called insulators. Insulators include: rubber, cloth, plastic, glass, or dry air. 

Electricity has a few important properties:Electrical Safety, Office safety

  • It must have a complete path (or circuit) to continuously flow.
    • Without two points of contact on the body for current to enter and exit, respectively, there is no hazard of shock. In fact, this why birds and squirrels can sit on power lines; there's only one point of contact!
  • It will all paths back to the source, but it will follow paths proportionally according to the conductivity of each path.
    • When impedance (resistance to electrical currents) increases even slightly, the electrical current seeks other paths to ground, such as through a person in contact with an energized surface.

As electricity is a serious workplace hazard, exposing employees to electric shock, burns, fires, and explosions, it is very important to understand how to avoid these risks and learn how to reduce electrical accidents down to 0.

The good news is that these electrical accidents are 100% preventable with proper knowledge and training!

In short, there are only 3 things needed to achieve this.

  1. Understanding how electricity works.
  2. Recognizing potential electrical hazards.
  3. Learning about safety devices that prevent shock.

All three of these things are taught (and then some) in Safety Training Service’s NFPA 70E training course. For more information contact us and find out more information. For anyone not interested in the training at this time, read on for more information/tips on reducing these risks in your workplace.

Electrical equipment used in an office is potentially hazardous. It can cause serious shock and burn injuries if improperly used or if equipment is poorly maintained. Remember, periodic self-inspection should be conducted of your area to help identify and correct electrical hazards and maintain compliance. Follow these tips to reduce exposure to electrical hazards.

  • To reduce the risk of fires, turn off all appliances at the end of the day.
  • Only use 3-prong (grounded) outlets and grounded appliances.
  • Immediately disconnect any malfunctioning electrical equipment or any equipment giving off a strange odor.
  • Promptly disconnect and replace cracked, frayed, or broken electrical cords.
    • Don't "yank" cords out by pulling on the cord itself.
  • Keep extension cords clear of doorways and other areas where they can be stepped on.
  • Do not use staples to fasten extension cords. Do not hang cords from nails, or suspend by wire.
    • It is recommended to keep all wires and cords off the floor to prevent injuries caused by tripping.
  • Don't use equipment with worn or frayed cords or cables.
    • Ensure that unsafe electrical conditions and practices are promptly reported to a supervisor.
  • Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn't fit!
  • Plugs should fit securely into outlets, but check for those that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire.
  • Ensure that all appliances are certified by an independent testing lab! E.g., Underwriter's Laboratory (UL).
  • Maintain at least 3 feet of clearance in front of all electrical panels. (Overlooked way too often!)
  • Water and electricity should never be very close to each other.
    • Electric plugs at cubicles should be away from places where water or coffee spills are most likely to occur.
  • Inspect space heaters!
    • Verify the devices are approved for commercial use and have a switch that automatically shuts off the heater if the heater is tipped over. Further, make sure space heaters are not powered through an extension cord or placed near combustible materials such as paper.
  • Never block fire sprinklers!
    • Furniture and tall stacks of materials can block the range of fire sprinklers, reducing their effectivemess in the event of an emergency.
  • Do not block escape routes or prop open fire doors.
    • Items should never be stored along an emergency exit route. These paths should remain free from clutter, according to OSHA. Fire doors should not be held open by unapproved means (such as with a garbage can or a chair), as this creates a significant fire hazard.
      Electricity safety, office safety,  electrical safety program
Last, but not least, and most of all, insurance is essential. Although it is not an office safety tip, it often helps to have it just in case an emergency occurs. With these safety tips for your workplace and your informed knowledge on the topic of electricity and electrical safety, you can be sure to avoid some of the most common accidents and emergencies of electric shocks and fire!
For more information on STS's NFPA 70E course, click the button below!
I'd like to know  more about your NFPA 70E class!

Tags: electrical safety, electrical safety program, office safety, osha electrical safety, electrical safety training, electricity safety

Electrical Safety: 10 Tips for Overhead Power Lines

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Wed, May 29, 2013 @ 12:00 PM

With May (Electrical Safety Month) coming to a close, Safety Training Services, Inc. would like to offer 10 tips to remember for those who work near overhead power lines (when working outside):

1. Survey your surroundings. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long tools (e.g. ladders). Don’t assume…assess.

2. Obey the 10 foot rule. As in, do not work or use equipment within 10 feet of overhead lines. You may feel lucky and think “I won’t come in contact with the power line.” However, the electricity can arc to nearby objects and people and assuming you have enough time to think before being barbequed better than my dad’s grilled chicken, you’ll remember these words.

Fall safety, fall protection


3. Be careful when working on your roof. That includes cleaning gutters, installing antennas and satellite dishes or any repair work. Oh….and during winter, those holiday lights, be especially careful putting those 250 strands up, thank you Mr. Griswold.

4. Never climb trees near power lines. Limbs & branches can bend or break off and obviously, you can fall off. Didn’t you learn this as a child?

Electrical safety, power line safety

5. Never trim trees near power lines. Leave that to a professional.

6. Always follow safety procedures, no matter how boring and mundane they seem. Just remember, “Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.”

Electric fire, electrical safety

7. Assume all power lines are energized. Do not use metal ladders near them; instead use appropriate American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-approved ladders for work near energized power lines. With respect to electricity, one wrong move could be your last.




8. Train yourself/your workers. You/they should be versed in emergency communication and proper techniques for providing aid to someone after an electrical accident.

Buddy system, safety watch

9. Use Safety Watches or Spotters. Their only duties should be observing the work and communicating with the operator to ensure the equipment never gets closer than 10 feet to a power line. Were you in boy/girl scouts as a kid? Remember the “buddy system!”



Osha electrical safety, electricity safety

10. Don’t be a hero! Keep a safe distance from any victim who is/was in direct contact with electricity. Call 911 immediately! Do not try to touch victim because you may be electrocuted. 




The best way to avoid injury from power lines is to make the choice to stay committed to safety. All rules & regulations are useless unless they’re observed. Safe work habits should be consistent and ongoing.

Remember, as OSHA states it, “no building, equipment, deadline or profit is worth a human life.”

Safety Training Services, Inc. provides appropriate training for several safety topics, including but not limited to: OSHA General Industry, OSHA Construction Industry, NFPA 70E Arc Flash Training, HAZWOPER, Confined Space Entry and Rescue. Call or contact us for a free quote on safety training! Consulting Services, Rescue Services and Equipment sales & rentals also available. Or schedule a visit to come by (or us to you) and see what we can offer your company today!


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Tags: electrical safety tips, nfpa 70e training, osha electrical safety, electrical safety training, osha safety topics