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

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.

Calls for revised Government guidelines – Of those who were familiar with HSG47 (avoiding danger from underground services), four fifths (80%) believed it is far too ambiguous when it comes to recommending the appropriate safety clothing to protect staff.

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.

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.

Alan Murray, CEO of BSIF, 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’re fully behind this survey.”

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

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