An arc flash is the light and heat produced from an electric arc supplied with sufficient electrical energy to cause substantial damage, harm, fire, or injury. A typical arc flash incident can be inconsequential but could conceivably easily produce a more severe explosion. The result of the violent event can cause destruction of equipment involved, fire, and injury not only to an electrical worker but also to bystanders.
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An arc flash happens when electric current flows through an air gap between conductors. Accidents caused by touching a test probe to the wrong surface or slipped tool are the most common cause of an arcing fault. Arc flashes can also be caused by dust, corrosion or other impurities on the surface of the conductor.