The Occupational Safety and Health administration reports that an approximate 30,000 arc flash events occur in the United States every year, resulting in property damage, injury and even death. One of the areas where this type of accident occurs is also a place where we see the most neglect when it comes to preventative maintenance and overall safety. The controls cabinet.
Wear Appropriate PPE When Working Around Control Cabinetry
When we consider injuries from electrical enclosures we first tend to imagine they come from electrical shock. But according to The National Fire Protection Association over 80% of hospital admissions from electrical incidents are a result of ignition of flammable clothing. Therefore, it is important to wear appropriate clothing when working around electrical enclosures. Arch flash resistance jacket and gloves are recommended when working inside any electrical cabinet.
Keep it Clean
One of the main causes of failure we see with any controls cabinet is contamination from dirt, oil, production material, any number of other airborne debris that may be present in the facility. It is also one of the ways an electrical enclosure can become a fire risk. One of the possible results from a contamination is that this will often act as an insulator. As air flow is inhibited and heat rises within the cabinet the chance of electrical failure increases exponentially. This creates the chance that the electrical fault ignites the surrounding material and creates a fire. At best this will create a costly and expensive amount of equipment that now needs replacing. At worst, resulting in injury or loss of human life. It is important to make sure to schedule regular shutdowns and clean the enclosures regularly while observing proper lock out, tag out procedures.
Qualify and Train Employees Doing Electrical Work
One of the oft cited reasons for accidents related to electrical enclosures is inexperienced workers interacting with the equipment without proper training. The only persons that should be allowed to work inside a control cabinet are licensed electrical technicians that have the knowledge to properly identify and avoid possible electrical hazards. No matter how much the machine operators claims they know about the machine, it is important that they are not permitted to work on the electrical side unless they have the proper training.
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