Alan QuoteAlan O’Kelly, Premium Power’s Project Development Director reports on witnessing the Du Pont Thermoman the effects of an arc flash burn on the body

Sometimes you need to see something in the flesh for it to really hit home. To witness it in person, to understand the impact of what the reality is of something you talk about, regularly. Arc flash burn and arc flash protection are discussion points daily in the Premium Power offices. As electrical engineering consultants and leading arc flash experts in the UK and Ireland, arc flash is our business.

But nothing prepares you for the impact of what it’s really like to witness the power of extreme thermal event and watch a life size human being – albeit a dummy, on fire. Seeing it, live, is really something for the senses. Something shocking.

Recently, Premium Power were invited to speak at the Du Pont and Arco Thermo Man demonstrations in Linlithgow, Scotland and in Hull, UK. We were there to talk about our work on mitigating against arc flash, about arc flash analysis and arc flash studies and the importance of arc flash modelling and calculations. These processes are necessary to ensure workers know their arc flash boundaries, that equipment and panels are labelled correctly and that workers know which PPE to wear in their working situations to avoid arc flash burn.


As part of the event, Du Pont and Arco introduced Thermo Man – a life size human dummy, who is subjected to an extreme burn. While this is not an arc flash event, rather a thermal one (the burn is rated 8 cal / cm2 ), it was a real eye opener as to the injuries that can be caused. The Thermo Man facility uses sensors on the dummy to calculate the resulting burns a human would suffer over their body. The image below show you a little of what this is like.



It’s hard to imagine a real human being subjected to such an explosion without the correct PPE. But this is the reality that unprotected workers face. It’s what causes such injury and in some tragic cases, death for workers just doing their job.




Ireland and the UK are doing good work towards implementing policies and procedures to prevent against arc flash occurrence in industry. We are seeing a rise in requests for arc flash training and have worked with hundreds of clients over the past number of years to complete arc flash anlalysis at their facilities.

But, the message doesn’t always get through. There are still organisations who have not considered the dangers of arc flash through their facilities and we still, through our education programmes and seminars, can find some resistance from electrical personnel and engineers who don’t see the need for full arc flash studies or believe they can carry them out in house, with little data.

But that’s the danger of arc flash. It occurs where you least expect it, via a medium you think benign, to both experienced and inexperienced workers.

Bearing witness to Thermo Man, to watch the fire take hold of the body and see how the correct PPE acts as a shield to prevent such catastrophic injuries, was an eye opener, for me.

Imagine what such a scene might do for you. Would it change your mind towards the dangers of arc flash?

Alan O’Kelly is Project Development Director with Premium Power. Premium Power’s next free electrical safety and arc flash seminar takes place in Sunderland on Wednesday 26 October. Find out more about the event and how to register your place here.


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