by , on June 15, 2010

This is an excellent site I have used for years for my own medical info BUT I give it a B- on arc flash.  The electrical shock info is up-to-date and accurate but the arc flash has deficiencies.

Click here to visit WebMD’s Electrical Injuries Article.

WebMD says, “Electrical arcs: Current sparks are formed between objects of different electric potential that are not in direct contact with each other, most often a highly charged source and a ground. The temperature of an electrical arc can reach 2500-5000o C, resulting in deep thermal burns where it contacts the skin. These are high-voltage injuries that may cause both thermal and flame burns in addition to injury from direct current along the arc pathway.”

Calling arcs “current sparks” is not really understanding a true arc flash.  Makes it sound like a spark you see when operating an electric motor.  “Ionized gas with current flow” would be a better description.  The temp is basically fine and the “deep thermal burns” is an accurate description.  Saying they are “high-voltage” injuries is totally inaccurate.  They are most often low voltage events and THERMAL injuries.  They can have direct current but probably not.  This might be somewhat accurate for a “tracking arc” but this isn’t the majority of arc flashes.

WebMD says, “Flame: Ignition of clothing causes direct burns from flames. Both electrothermal and arcing currents can ignite clothing.”

Great to point this out.  This is the culprit in most arc flash injuries.

WebMD says, “Flash: When heat from a nearby electrical arc causes thermal burns but current does not actually enter the body, the result is a flash burn. Flash burns may cover a large surface area of the body but are usually only partial thickness.”

This is an arc flash we commonly speak of.  Both their electric arc and flash are two types of arc burns but they don’t have to be high voltage.

Good to see a medical site speaking about both “tracking arc” and “arc flash”.  Better information about these types of events is needed so workers have good information to aid in prevention.

Click here to read my article on the four types of arcs in the field.

Hugh Hoagland
About author:
Hugh Hoagland is the foremost tester of clothing and PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Read more about Hugh.

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