How Do I Mitigate an Arc Flash?

arc flash currents

Before heading into the field, you need to have an arc flash mitigation plan. These events indicate a serious fault in the power system. A sudden arc flash can cause widespread outages and equipment damage. In the worst-case scenario, it may even lead to injury or death. These strategies will help mitigate risk and create a safer work environment:

Arc-Resistant Switchgear

When used correctly, arc-resistant switchgear directs flash energy away from workers and equipment. The latest technology can withstand an electric arc entirely. There are two main types of switchgear recommended: passive and active.

Passive arc-resistant switchgear works to contain the arc. It might even reduce the chances of an event occurring. Active arc-resistant switchgear limits the strength and length of an event. This also reduces the risk of equipment damage.

High-Resistance Grounding

The smaller an arc flash, the less energy it creates. High-resistance grounding works to reduce the size of line-to-ground faults. These systems monitor and reduce current flow as needed. Generally, grounding limits currents to 5 and 10 amps during an incident. The operator can then safely locate the fault without any downtime.


Arc flash relays provide around-the-clock mitigation for voltage systems of all sizes. Whenever the relay detects light from an arc, it immediately signals the circuit to disconnect power. This quick response greatly reduces the amount of energy produced by the arc flash. Relays are simple to install and very cost-effective.

Current-Limiting Fuses

The more powerful an arc’s current, the more damage it can do. Current-limiting fuses block current during faults. It only takes a few milliseconds for the fuse to react during an event. This reaction prevents system overload and reduces downtime.

Remote Operations

Remote operations should be a part of any mitigation strategy. Some procedures are too dangerous to execute in person. It’s critical to keep workers as far away from arc flashes as possible. Remote operation of breakers and switches lets operators work away from high-risk areas.

Prevention Solutions

A flash event can happen in the blink of an eye. Prevention is key to protecting the lives of operators and reducing equipment damage. ABB Field Services South offers solutions to improve safety in the field. Connect with us to discover which products are essential to your arc flash mitigation strategy.