Research Project to Seek Better Understanding of Arc Flash Hazards

A flash of bright light sends molten metal and intense radiant heat blasting outward, throwing workers into the air and destroying equipment. This may sound like a pivotal scene in the latest blockbuster movie, but it is a description of an arc flash, a serious hazard that electrical workers face every day.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) -- both members and accredited standards developers of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) -- have teamed on a new initiative to fund and support research and testing to increase the understanding of the arc flash phenomenon.

The IEEE/NFPA Arc Flash Collaborative Research Project is expected to provide information that can improve electrical safety standards, predict the hazards associated with arcing faults and accompanying arc blasts, and provide practical safeguards for employees in the workplace.

In addition to building an understanding of what is known about arc flash events worldwide, the program will involve more than 2,000 test protocols. These will measure the thermal, pressure, sound, shrapnel, toxicity, and radiative phenomena generated in arc flashes, as well as how enclosures affect the energy released.

The project team's work effort will build upon a number of American National Standards that are already in place to protect electrical workers from arc flash hazards.

For more information, visit http://standards.ieee.org/esrc/arcflash/index.html.

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