At a time when there is understood to be a notable gap between awareness of arc flash risk, and a comprehensive understanding of arc flash risk, the natural question that’s being asked is this: who is responsible for ensuring that employees working in high risk environments know the best ways to protect themselves from arc flash hazards?
Research undertaken by the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) confirms that very few workers are clear on where the responsibility lies. In fact, the survey of 200 participants working across five high risk industries found that while some believe it to be the Government or the relevant industry body, others understand it to be the commissioning client or the employer. Some even think it’s the employee themselves.
So who’s right?
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that their workers have the knowledge, the training, and the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe at work. However, employers should be supported in their efforts to boost safety by the Government, through simple, easy-to-access resources relating to arc flash hazards.
Are employers taking responsibility? Is the Government offering the adequate level of support to facilitate employer responsibility? Not according to the study by the BSIF.
Many employers, who are responsible overall for their employees, actually think that the responsibility lies with the employees themselves. In fact, half of employers questioned believe employees should be educating themselves about the dangers of arc flash.
And what sort of support are employers getting from the Government. Not as much as they need. 78% of respondents, who work across the wind, utilities, rail, power, electrical, and petrochemical sectors, are unaware of the official Government stance on arc flash, and of those that are aware, the majority claim that the guidance isn’t clear, especially in terms of the type of PPE that’s needed to protect against arc flash.
90% of the research participants state that there is an urgent need for the Government to step up and publish clearer, less ambiguous guidelines for working safely in environments where there is a notable risk of arc flash. However, employers should be stepping up, too, and taking measures to ensure that all employees working on site have the correct type of workwear needed to protect them within their environment.