Chapter 23.2: Electricity Appendix – Arc Flash

Chapter 23.2: Electricity Appendix - Arc Flash


Electricity, present in all workplaces, kills a significant number of workers every year. Most of these fatalities occur outside the electricity supply industry. Effective control of electrical hazards needs to consider the nature of the work and the exposure, and include appropriate controls for electrical workers outside the electricity supply industry and for non-electrical workers. While control of electrical hazards requires specialist knowledge, the generalist Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professional has a vital role in stimulating critical analysis to ensure electrical safety is effectively integrated into an organisation’s OHS management system and risk management processes for both electrical and non-electrical workers. To deliver on this role, the OHS professional should understand the basic physics of electricity and how electricity causes injury and death, the regulatory framework, standard controls for both electrical and non-electrical work, and how the controls might fail. This chapter and an appendix addressing the high-risk event of arc flash present this information from the perspective of the generalist OHS professional.

Keywords: electricity, electrocution, voltage, burns, induction, arc flash, safety, control

First year of publication: 2019
Current Version: 2019

Chapter 23.2: Electricity Appendix - Arc Flash

A1 Introduction
A1.1 Some electrical terms
A2 The extent of the problem
A3 Understanding arc flash
A3.1 Electrical arcs
A3.2 Arc faults, arc flash and arc blast
A3.3 Impact of arc flash
A3.4 Arc flash and nature of work
A4 Risk assessment
A5 Legislation and standards
A5.1 Legislation
A5.2 Standards
A6 Control of arc flash hazards
A6.1 Elimination
A6.2 Substitution
A6.3 Engineering controls
A6.4 Administrative controls
A6.5 Personal protective equipment (PPE)
A6.6 Resilience of controls
A7 Implications for OHS practice
A8 Summary

Brett Cleaves BE(Elec), Director, Engineering Safety Pty Ltd

Since starting as a cadet with BHP in 1993, Brett has worked in steel mills, mines and electrical utilities, executing a range of duties in maintenance, engineering, governance, production and project management. He developed a strong commitment to electrical safety, and received BlueScope awards for leadership and engagement.

In 2013, Brett established Engineering Safety through which he provides project management services for a range of electrical companies together with general advice on electrical safety to industry. At the leading edge of hazard identification, assessment and control for arc flash in Australia, Brett is a strong advocate for the need for knowledge of arc flash to evolve to provide clarity on the most appropriate practices and controls.

The OHS Body of Knowledge takes a conceptual approach which enables it to be applied in different contexts and frameworks.
To optimise its value for education and professional development learning outcomes have been developed for each technical chapter in the Body of Knowledge.
The learning outcomes as described give an indication of what should be the capabilities of an OHS professional; it is up to those developing OHS education programs, OHS professionals planning their CPD or recruiters or employers selecting or developing people for the OHS function to consider the required breadth vs. depth .
Please read the section on using the learning outcomes before delving into the leaning outcomes of the individual chapters.
The numbers against each learning outcome refer to the chapter number of the BOK download page. No learning outcomes have been developed for the chapters considered introductory or underpinning knowledge (that is chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, .13, 14, 15.)