Arc Flash Safety is one of our newest courses. It’s an introductory-level course meant to educate industrial workers about the hazards of electrical arc blast and arc flash in their workplace.
This was one of our more challenging subjects to produce. Electricity is a very complex subject. It is also a very serious subject because the hazards involved can be so deadly. There is just so much information on electrical safety, and all of it is important. To create an introductory course aimed at raising awareness of arc flash hazards, tough choices had to be made about what would and wouldn’t be included. Because our course is aimed at a lay audience of general industry workers, not electrical workers, our goal was to communicate the basic causes and hazards of arc flashes without going into too much detail on voltage, components, and specifics like that.
Contributing to our production process was Bob Ruggles, the founder and CEO of Electric Diagnostic Surveys. His company does safety consulting and training on NFPA 70E regulations and compliancy, creating an electrical safety program, and general electrical safety training. (Read more about Bob Ruggles and his company at the bottom of this blog entry.)
Ruggles’ input was valuable in ensuring that we were choosing the most pertinent information to include. One of his major contributions was suggesting that we do a visual animation of the electrical safety boundaries (Arc Flash Protection Boundary and the electrical shock boundaries), because they were very important concepts and he had never seen a very clear visual method to teach them. This ended up being a great addition to the course content.
The visual aspects of this course were a challenge, also. For one thing, we had no reference for how to best illustrate how an arc flash happens. While it seems like a simple concept on the surface (basically it’s an electrical explosion), when you get down to the scientific causes of it, it is very complex. We wanted to illustrate the basic causes behind the arc flash without including too much visual detail that would confuse a lay audience. Another challenge was in creating a realistic MCC (motor control room) for our main virtual “set.” Ruggles’ long-time electrical expertise was very valuable in ensuring that our illustrations and animations were both accurate and easy-to-understand.
We’d also like to thank the Arc Flash Forum, an online forum moderated by Jim Phillips. We used this forum for asking questions of experienced electrical workers, as well as getting informal reviews of some of the visual aspects of the course. Online forums like these have a wealth of knowledge and are invaluable for asking questions and learning about other peoples’ experiences.
Here’s a rundown of the topics included in our Arc Flash Safety course:
- What an arc flash is
- How an arc flash happens
- Common causes of arc flash
- NFPA Hazard Risk Categories
- The Flash Protection Boundary
- Tips on reading electrical warning signs and labels
- The importance of PPE and Lockout/Tagout procedures
- What NFPA 70E is
More about Bob Ruggles: Bob has been in the electrical field for more than thirty years. He started his career as a journeyman electrician and later became the owner of an electrical contracting company. He has also been an OSHA instructor and an inventor of award-winning safety products for the electrical industry.
Bob had a close friend, an experienced electrician, die from being electrocuted at a worksite. This experience made Bob see the need for more serious workplace training that drilled home the very real dangers of electricity. As a result, he started his own electrical safety training company in 2004. In his live training sessions, Bob includes the story of his friend’s electrocution so that attendees learn that electrical accidents can happen to anyone, no matter how experienced. The story also gives his audience an emotional connection to the material, which helps them remember why electrical safety is important.