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Miners: Be aware of arc flashes

Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Eleven miners were injured as a result of an arc flash over a recent six-month period, according to a safety alert from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Arc flash events occur when “a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another,” OSHA says.

During one incident, a miner was burned while cutting an energized power line. In another, two miners were injured while performing maintenance on a breaker box.

MSHA offers best practices for staying safe around arc flash hazards:

  • Establish safe procedures before beginning work and discuss the plan with any miners involved in the task.
  • Ensure electricians know how to de-energize and disconnect electrical systems and equipment.
  • Use properly rated electrical meters and personal protective equipment, such as electrically rated gloves, insulated blankets or mats, and polycarbonate barriers.
  • Lock out and tag out circuits before working on electrical equipment.
  • Identify and control all hazardous energy sources before conducting any task.

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