February 20, 2023 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Complacency Is Your Enemy: Anatomy of an Arc Flash Incident

arc flash

On May 3, 2015, at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Technical Area 53, during Preventative Maintenance (PM) on a 13.8-kV electrical substation, a wireman entered a cubicle on the energized portion of the switchgear to clean it with a commercial spray cleaner and suffered severe injuries from the resulting arc flash and blast.

LANL Deputy Chief Electrical Safety Officer Tommy R. Martinez and Journeyman Electrician Julian Trujillo published a paper sharing the details of the arc flash and resulting injuries from both the facility’s and the worker’s perspective. It was presented on March 6, 2020, at the 2020 IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop in Reno, Nevada. They recorded the same presentation for our workforce here at LANL on June 18, 2020.

This presentation highlighting the arc flash and its aftermath will:

  • Review the discussions, thought process, and planning decisions made from the facility perspective
  • Discuss how these factors unknowingly added increased risk to this work activity detail the event from the worker’s perspective and examine how risk factors were identified prior to the incident without being addressed
  • Describe the details leading up to the incident, the incident itself, the response, and lessons learned

Content and photo credit: DOE (Department of Energy), OPEXShare, “Complacency is Your Enemy: Anatomy of an Arc Flash Incident and Lessons Learned,” Publisher: Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (LANL).

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