Health & Safety Insights

What is arc flash?

Date: 4/22/2022

An electric arc flash is a high-amp current that jumps through the air. It occurs when the path of the electric current is interrupted; the current then flows through the air to a new conductor or to ground, causing an explosion.


When arc flash occurs, there’s a brilliant flash of light followed by a burst of super-heated gas and droplets of molten metal explode outward from the equipment. There can be one or more explosions within milliseconds which generate extremely high temperatures.


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Arc blast usually accompanies arc flash. It’s a tremendous shock wave of pressure. The blast can knock a person to the ground and disintegrate everything within a specific area, cause eardrums to rupture, and propel shrapnel with a force equal to a small hand grenade.


An arc flash/blast event can begin and end in less than a second; bystanders usually see a flash then hear a loud boom. When recorded by a camera, the footage reveals the massive amount of damage that occurs.


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