Electrical hazards are a serious concern in various industries and workplaces, especially when dealing with high voltage systems. It is crucial to understand the potential risks associated with high voltage electrical equipment and take proactive measures to ensure the safety of both individuals and the surrounding environment. In this blog post, we will explore three of the most common high voltage electrical hazards and discuss practical steps that can be taken to avoid them.
1. Electric Shock
Electric shock is one of the most well-known hazards associated with high voltage systems. A powerful electrical current passing through the human body can cause severe injuries or even be fatal. However, with proper precautions, the risk of electric shock can be significantly reduced.
How to avoid electric shock
Training and Awareness
Ensure that personnel working with high voltage equipment receive comprehensive training on electrical safety. This should cover topics such as recognising electrical hazards, understanding safe work practices, and implementing proper lockout/tagout procedures.
We recommend the following courses for familiarisation with high voltage equipment:
S9 – for those with very little previous experience in high voltage switching
S1 – suitable for both electrical and non-electrical personnel who are to take up a role of an Authorised Person (Limited Authorisation)
S4 – for any electrical personnel with a good foundation level of electrical knowledge who are required to carry out advanced HV switching operations and safety document issuing responsibilities and take on the role of an Authorised Person (AP) or Senior Authorised Person (SAP)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Always wear appropriate PPE, including insulating gloves, safety shoes, and arc-rated clothing, when working with high voltage systems. Insulated tools should also be used to minimise the risk of electrical contact.
Risk Assessment and Isolation
Conduct a thorough risk assessment before working on or near high voltage equipment. Isolate the power source and follow correct lockout/tagout procedures to prevent accidental re-energisation.
2. Arc Flash
An arc flash is a sudden release of energy in the form of intense heat, light, and pressure, resulting from an electric arc. It can cause severe burns, blindness, and other injuries. Arc flashes often occur due to equipment failure, inadequate maintenance, or improper work practices.
How to avoid arc flash incidents
Regularly inspect and maintain high voltage equipment to identify and rectify potential issues before they become hazards. Follow manufacturer guidelines and industry standards for maintenance procedures.
Arc Flash Risk Assessment
Conduct a comprehensive arc flash risk assessment to determine the potential hazards associated with specific equipment. This will help in selecting the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), defining safe work boundaries, and establishing clear procedures to mitigate arc flash risks.
Work Permits and Procedures
Implement a permit-to-work system that ensures all work on high voltage equipment is authorised, supervised, and carried out by trained personnel following established safe work procedures. This includes de-energisation, verification of absence of voltage, and the use of arc-resistant equipment where necessary.
Learn more about Arc Flash in our ARC course: https://faradaycentre.co.uk/course/arc-flash-appreciation-training-arc/
3. Equipment Failure and Overloading
High voltage equipment can fail or become overloaded, leading to catastrophic consequences such as fires, explosions, or electrical surges. Preventive measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of equipment failures.
How to avoid equipment failures and overloading
Regularly inspect and maintain high voltage equipment to detect signs of wear, corrosion, loose connections, or other issues that could lead to equipment failure. Follow manufacturer recommendations for maintenance schedules and implement a comprehensive inspection checklist.
Carefully manage electrical loads to prevent overloading. Be aware of the equipment’s rated capacity and ensure that it is not exceeded.
Install surge protection devices (SPDs) to safeguard equipment from power surges caused by lightning strikes, switching operations, or other electrical disturbances. SPDs can divert excess voltage away from sensitive equipment, preventing damage and potential hazards.
When it comes to high voltage electrical systems, safety should always be the utmost priority. By understanding and addressing the common hazards associated with high voltage, implementing preventive measures, and fostering a culture of safety through training and awareness, we can create a secure environment for all personnel involved. Remember, staying safe around high voltage systems is a shared responsibility, and each of us has a crucial role to play in preventing accidents and protecting lives. Stay informed, stay cautious, and prioritise safety at all times!