Donnie Johnson had been an electrician for 19 years when he was hit by an arc flash that nearly killed him. According to his website, Johnson suffered third-degree burns to the muscle on both hands and arms and second degree burns on his face, head and neck. Johnson has since recovered from the accident but will never again work as an electrician.
“Honestly, if I had been wearing the personal protection equipment [PPE] that was provided for me, that I was trained to use and still in the PPE bag between the front seats of my van, my trip to the hospital would have probably been just for a check-up and a few, minor burns,” Johnson writes on his site. “Although my injuries were electrical in nature, whether you are a plumber, a carpenter or a mason there are safety procedures that could protect you from injury or save your life.”
Believe it or not, Johnson was one of the lucky ones. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 139 American workers died last year from exposure to electricity. That’s why arc flash safety training is literally a matter of life or death. It’s an employer’s responsibility to train workers to follow proper safety procedures, always wear their PPE, and teaching them why it matters.
An arc flash occurs when energy jumps through a high-voltage gap, giving off intense heat that can go upwards of 35,000 degrees. The force can also create a sound blast that is damaging to human ears and may hurtle objects through the air, further injuring anyone nearby.
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