Scene from Florida

Arc Flash the Subject of Additional Interview for Faces of Fire/Electrical Hazard Awareness Video Series

Faces of Fire campaignIn August 2004, Don Johnson, an electrician from Florida, was at work connecting a client’s backup generator for use during an impending hurricane when a failure of his rotation tester or a loose clip shorted out in a 4,000 amp/480-volt switchgear section he was working on, creating an arc flash event that destroyed much of the equipment and blew him against a wall nearly killing him. Johnson survived but suffered third-degree burns on his face, neck and arms, and spent years recovering from his injuries. 

Don’s story is the latest, and final interview of Faces of Fire/Electrical, a campaign series from NFPA and the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors that features personal stories of people impacted by electrical incidents, and provides information about electrical safety in the workplace and at home.

Arc flash, also known as flashover, is the light and heat produced as part of an arc fault, and a type of electrical explosion or discharge that results from an unintended electrical connection through the air to ground or another phase of the electrical system. An arc flash is one of the most devastating and deadly electrical hazards present in today’s workplace; it can produce temperatures as high as 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit and cause severe burns, hearing loss, eye injuries, skin damage from blasts of molten metal, lung damage, and blast injuries. An NFPA report estimates that five to 10 arc flash incidents occur every day, and more than 2,000 people are treated annually in burn centers with arc flash injuries.

Both shock and arc flash, in addition to other electrical hazards have been the focus of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Workplace Electrical Safety® and OSHA standards since the late 1970s. NFPA 70E emphasizes the importance of performing a solid risk assessment that examines all aspects of the hazards to which employees are exposed and provides a valuable tool to determine how best to mitigate the potential danger.

Faces of Fire/Electrical features personal stories of electrical burn survivors whose lives have been forever altered and how more understanding, training, and a change in work culture could have significantly impacted these outcomes. Through interviews, written profiles, and related information, Faces of Fire/Electrical is a resource for electrical and non-electrical workers, and the general public to learn more about the importance of electrical safety.

We are grateful to Don and his wife, Kelly, for sharing their story with us. Hear Don’s conversation with NFPA and learn how he is advocating for electrical workplace safety. Visit www.nfpa.org/facesoffire to watch all the videos from the series. Free resources are also available to download and share, including a recent NFPA Podcast, The Mysteries of Electrical Injuries, that takes an in-depth look at what a powerful electrical shock can do to the body, and how it’s treated.

Find this information and more at nfpa.org/facesoffire.

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LisaMarie Sinatra
Communications Manager, Public Affairs Office

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