Arc Flash Information Resource Center
Arc flash is one of the most dangerous workplace hazards, causing hundreds of serious injuries and fatalities each year and costing companies millions in worker's compensation and damage to equipment--not to mention OSHA fines and legal fees. A study* by the Electrical Power Research Institute estimated direct costs to an employer from a fatal electrical accident at $1.3 million, with indirect costs adding another $2 to $8 million. Unfortunately, many employers are unaware of the risk, and many more have not implemented important safety procedures and devices to protect their workers.
History of Arc Flash
Prior to 1982, it was assumed that electric shock was the major risk associated with live electrical work. In 1982, Dr. Ralph Lee first identified arc flash, in a paper presented to the IEEE-IAS titled 'The Other Electrical Hazard: Electric Arc Blast Burns.' According to this paper, as many as 80% of electrical injuries resulted from arc flash rather than from shock. Over the next several years, industry awareness of the hazard began to grow, especially in the petrochemical industry.