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Extreme arc flash blast hospitalises young father

Published: 7 June 2019 - Carly Wills

A father of one is lucky to be alive after surviving an extreme Arc Flash blast that happened while he was at work. 

Eddie Smith, 30, was working on site in his role as team leader for construction firm, Clancy Docwra, when the jackhammer he was using to break ground hit a high voltage cable.

Despite meticulously completing all safety checks, contact with the voltage cable caused an arc flash - an intense burst of energy that is more than four times hotter than the surface of the sun, louder than a gunshot, and can burn an operative’s skin within fractions of a second.

Although Smith suffered burns to his hands, neck, mouth and nose, he managed to avoid life changing injuries thanks to the clothing he was wearing, as his employer had invested in specially-designed ProGARM arc flash protective clothing (PPE).

Speaking of the incident, Smith said: “It was just a normal day, I drove into work and spoke to my supervisor about the day’s work ahead - we’d received a brief about an important job close to a railway line. Once fully briefed, I arrived on site, unloaded and completed the usual safety checks. Myself and the team then started to break away some tarmac with a breaker.

“As is often the case, the ground underneath the tarmac was very hard, meaning we weren’t able to use shovels or grafters to break the ground. So I took the decision to break through the hard ground using a jackhammer. Unfortunately, as I was doing that, the jackhammer threw straight into the ground and hit a cable.

“As soon as the jackhammer hit the cable, an arc flash occurred. It all happened very quickly, it was a complete shock. I remember experiencing a lot of pain and awful thoughts running through my head. I had burns all over my hands, down my neck, inside my nose, inside my mouth, and around my face, but because I was wearing my PPE, it didn’t touch my chest, legs or arms, so my body as a whole was completely fine.”

“That’s why it’s vital to wear PPE. If I hadn’t had been wearing ProGARM PPE that day, it would have been a very different story. That equipment saved my life.”

Since the incident Smith has made a full recovery and is now back to work. Eager to ensure others are made aware of the importance of wearing quality PPE, Smith, ProGARM and Clancy Docwra have created an educational video showcasing the importance of wearing PPE, and ProGARM is offering employers free consultations to offer advice to businesses looking to increase their employee protection against such risks.



 
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