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Arc Flash Protection - What you need to know to save lives on the Railway

 

Study reveals Arc Flash knowledge gap could be putting lives at risk

by Tony Arnett, MD ProGARM

·         Secret killer putting UK workforce at risk

·         Demands for clearer Governmental guidelines to help protect workers against Arc Flash

·         Survey reveals a large number of individuals have experienced an Arc Flash despite common belief

·         Reluctance and confusion from employers to adequately educate and protect staff

The UK’s leading Arc Flash Protection specialist, ProGARM, in conjunction with the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF), has commissioned a new study into electrical safety across UK industry in a bid to shine a spotlight on the potentially life changing and threatening risks of Arc Flash. Alarmingly, it reveals not only a lack of awareness at every level to current safety standards governing Arc Flash, but an apparent failure from employers to properly educate staff about this high-risk threat.

The study sought views from 200 UK industry professionals across the rail, power generation, industrial electrical, utilities and petrochemical industries, and was commissioned to help ProGARM better support its customers and their industries when it comes to adopting often lifesaving health and safety best practice

It is thought to be the first national research exercise of its type ever conducted into Arc Flash, and sought views from not only site-based employees, but senior management and employers themselves.

High awareness and first-hand experience 

There emerged both high levels of awareness to Arc Flash (84% claimed they understood the risks this type of electrical explosion poses) as well as an alarmingly high rate of first-hand experience, with 57% admitting they, or someone they work with, has suffered an Arc Flash strike themselves.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the Utilities, Rail and Power Generation sectors most likely to report Arc Flash incidents, though all other sectors, including [Civil Engineering and Construction], were also well represented.

However, the research highlights an apparent gap between this awareness, and the appropriate legislation in place to protect workers against it; a staggering 78% of respondents didn’t know the government safety document – HSG47 (avoiding danger from underground services) – that covers working when cutting ground and there is a potential Arc Flash risk.

Calls for revised Government guidelines

Of those who were familiar with HSG47, four fifths (80%) believed it is far too ambiguous when it comes to recommending the appropriate safety clothing to protect staff. 

The vast majority of all respondents (90%) also believed that there is a pressing need for the Government to develop more specific guidelines or legislation to better recommend safety measures, and appropriate clothing to help protect those working in an Arc Flash risk environment. 

Lack of employer support and education

But perhaps the study’s most worrying finding is the 25% of employers who believe it is the sole responsibility of the individual employee to protect themselves against Arc Flash. Not only that, but 50% consider it is the employee’s responsibility to self-educate about Arc Flash through a handbook or their own research – not their own responsibility as employer.

 

From all parties, there is also confusion over who in an organisation is responsible for minimising the risk of an Arc Flash, with answers ranging from the appropriate industry body (35%), the client commissioning a project (40%), the Government through legislation (37%).

 

Tony Arnett, Managing Director at ProGARM, said: “Arc Flash is a very real health and safety issue affecting industry professionals globally. However, to-date there has been little research into the number of people suffering from Arc Flash strikes - with many miss-labelling Arc Flash incidents for an electrical shock. In addition, there isn’t a broad understanding or easily accessible resource providing knowledge into this potentially deadly electrical explosion - making it very difficult to get a clear picture into the size and scale of the problem. That’s what makes this research study so fascinating.

“One thing’s clear; more needs to be done – both from a Governmental, and from an employer education perspective, to ensure that those working in an environment where Arc flash is a risk are adequately protected. While first and foremost, education, risk mitigation and prevention should be the focus, appropriate protective clothing is also crucial.

“This is something we work tirelessly at ProGARM to deliver through life-saving, cutting-edge protective garments developed with the specific requirements of the end-user in mind.”

For more information on how you can protect your workforce and receive a free Arc PPE consultation, please visit http://www.progarm.com/.

Ends

For further information on ProGARM or the risks of arc flash, please contact Ella Sykes, Sarah Spickett or Liam Pearce at progarm@prohibitionpr.co.uk or call 0113 430 4160.

Follow ProGARM on Twitter - @ProGARMSafety

Alan Murray, BSIF CEO  said: “Here at the BSIF we are aware of Arc Flash, and it’s something we know our members are also concerned by. We do all we can to promote safer working practices for UK industry, and that’s why we’ve decided to get behind this campaign.” Have we got permission for this?

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