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Arc flash by the numbers

While there has been a decline in the number of electrical injuries and fatalities recorded annually over the past 20 years, data also clearly indicates that exposure to electricity continues to be a substantial cause of injury and death among workers in the U.S. 


Violation of basic electrical safety requirements ranks high among the most frequently cited workplace health and safety violations with a more fundamental problem of inadequate electrical safety work practices. Electrical injuries and arc flash related incidents are not a myth. They are serious and costly.

Estimated number of arc flash explosions in the U.S. per day
Estimated number of arc flash explosions in the U.S. per day
The distance at which arc flash blasts can kill
10 ft
The distance at which arc flash blasts can kill
Number of people in U.S. admitted for arc flash burns each year
Number of people in U.S. admitted for arc flash burns each year

Electric arcing may produce temperatures as high as 35,000 degrees and may cause severe burns, hearing loss, eye injuries, skin damage from blasts of molten metal, lung damage and blast injuries


The cost of electrical injuries

An injured worker can spend one day in the hospital for each single percent of body burned. Of the electrical injury admissions, those which had exposure from 1000 volt applications have the longest average length of stay and require the most operations. Costs could range from $10,000 to $15,000,000 USD per arc flash burn injury. In one utility, electrical injuries represented more than 2% of all accidents but 28% - 52% of injury costs.

The importance of proper personal protective equipment (PPE)

In one study involving 40 arc flash incidents, approximately half of the workers who applied hazard analysis in selecting personal protective equipment suffered burn injuries as a result of not wearing gloves or a face shield with hard hat. Two-thirds of the workers involved in arc flash incidents were injured when they failed to conduct an arc flash analysis for selecting personal protective equipment. More than half of the construction workers in one study were reluctant to wear personal protective equipment even when clearly necessary because they found it to be uncomfortable or did not fit properly.

Training and awareness are key

In a study of more than 500 arc flash incidents, nearly half of the workers failed to recognize the hazard and even when the hazard was recognized, they still decided to engage in the specific task which resulted in the injury.
Electrical injuries are likely to involve cases where there were violations of the NFPA 70E requirements. 
Performing an electrical job while solely relying on PPE for protection could still result in an arc flash related injury.
Many workers have inadequate safety training to recognize safety hazards and follow proper procedures.

Mitigate the likelihood of an arc flash event

After completing an arc flash analysis, reduce the exposure and potential for harmful arc flash incidents through modified work practices and equipment designed to reduce incident energy, shorten clearing times, redirect arc energy and remove operators from the arc flash boundary. View Eaton's complete portfolio of arc flash mitigation products and solutions.

Source of the statistics on this page: 

Occupational Injuries From Electrical Shock and Arc Flash Events, The Fire Protection Research Foundation,  March 2015

Health Implications of Global Electrification, Ronald E. Wyzga and Wendy Lindroos,