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Protecting workers from arc flash explosions

It is important that Texas workers who are supposed to wear protective clothing for safety on the job do so at all times. In 2011, one electrician was severely injured when he worked without an arc flash suit. While doing a simple job, he encountered a problem. Since there was no main breaker, he had a choice between calling the power company with only half an hour left in his day or risking injury. The man chose to work on the unit without having the power shut off, and he was severely burned in an arc flash explosion.

Personal protective equipment would have lessened the severity of those injuries and prevented him from being burned across 16 percent of his body. However, the man was only one of 2,000 people each year who suffer arc flash injuries that require hospitalization. Of those, 400 die from burns or infection.

Clothing designed to protect workers from arc flash injuries has become more comfortable, fashionable and protective in recent years. The clothing should be able to survive multiple washes and continue to be as protective as it was on the first day. The amount of potential electrical energy should not be higher than the arc rating of the protective clothing. Employers need to communicate clearly with employees and ensure that they receive adequate training.

Workplace safety is considered the responsibility of the employer. However, if an employee is injured on the job, whether it is an electrical accident or another type of accident, most are eligible for workers' compensation regardless of who is at fault in the accident. In some cases, an employer might try to discourage an employee from seeking compensation, or the claim may be denied. A person who is injured in such an accident might want to consult an attorney who may be able to clarify a worker's rights and assist in pursuing compensation.

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