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Dressing to protect against arc flash injuries

People in Ohio who work with electricity must be sure to wear person protective gear. Every year, about 2,000 people around the country end up in the hospital as a result of arc flash injuries, and around 400 of those people die from infection or burns.

One man who survived an arc flash injury in 2011 was working without protective gear because he had loaned his suit to a coworker. There was no breaker at the site where the man was moving a temporary power feed, and it was nearly the end of the work day. He opted to continue work rather than calling the power company to get the power turned off. In the arc flash explosion that followed, the man suffered burns over 16 percent of his body. He only recovered after several months. Had he been wearing the protective gear, his injuries would not have been as serious.

Protective gear used in electrical work must continue to protect the worker after being washed multiple times. It should be arc-flash rated, should offer protection against second-degree burns and should not have an arc rating higher than the amount of electrical energy that can be produced. Employers should identify any dangers, assess the risks and identify what type of material will keep their employees safest.

Many types of workplace accidents, like this one, may require weeks or months of recovery time. During that time, workers' compensation benefits may be critical to pay for the medical expenses associated with serious injuries such as burns as well as to support the worker. Most workers are eligible for workers' compensation. This is usually the case even in a situation like this one in which the worker did not take the necessary precautions to reduce the seriousness of an injury.

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