Arc faults are serious events where a large amount of electrical energy is explosively released, which could result in serious burns or death of operators in the area. Additionally, they can cause significant damage to switchgear, conductors, switchboards and installations, which results in costly downtime and repairs.
The time spent in a potentially dangerous area can be minimised by utilising common accessories for switchgear which facilitate remote operation, such as motor operators and open/close coils. There are also methods available to complete the racking of circuit breakers remotely. These allow the operator to be away from the switchroom when switching and racking operations are occurring.
Each year there are between 6 and 11 incidents involving arc faults in Australia. Injuries to workers range from serious burns to death. (Australian Institute of Health & Safety, 2019.)
The hierarchy of controls is used to mitigate risks in the workplace, ranking the risks from the least effective to the most effective in relation to their level of protection and reliability. At the bottom rung of the hierarchy is PPE which is the ‘least effective’, through administrative controls, engineering controls, isolation, substitution, followed by elimination as the most effective means of control.