Jim Phillips and I became engaged in providing guidance on how quantitative methods of arc flash risk assessment could be used to predict the level of harm from arc flash, to prevent it from causing harm and to protect individuals in the event of a flash over. Guidance was produced to comply with the law in the UK initially and eventually across Europe. Five years later, Jim and I went onto produce a paper called a European View of Arc Flash Hazards and Electrical Safety which was presented to an audience of 500 delegates at the IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop in Florida. More discussion, this time from the US side of the Atlantic and it is no coincidence that there was the adoption of a more European style risk assessment process into the US electrical consensus standards NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.

I knew that I was on the right track when, sharing a platform with the HSE at an IET conference in Glasgow in 2011, a question was asked by one of the delegates whether there was any likelihood that guidance on the subject of arc flash would be issued in the near future. I was pleased to hear the endorsement that if guidance was needed then I had just given it in my presentation to the conference.

Why did I write this book?

My answer to that question is: because I care passionately about electrical safety. Arc flash risk management is sometimes seen as a difficult subject with responsible persons and duty holders often confused about what they have to do to keep their workplaces safe and to comply with the law. In addition to that, there is a perception that there is great expense required in managing the hazard through time and software in particular. This is a subject area that has been very PPE centric in the last 10 years and I wanted to get the message across that preventative techniques will always be prioritised. In addition, personal injury, while being devastating for the individuals concerned is just one item on a long list of potential losses from an arc flash accident.

I have been one of the most prolific exponents of arc flash risk management and electrical safety in Europe over many years, and my desire is to share my experience and knowledge of the subject. My experience, garnered by trudging around cement mills, power stations, steel works, food companies, quarries, electrical distribution networks and countless other sectors, together with the hours of debate with foremost experts in the arc flash arena has taught me a great deal. Things like the over complication of the risk assessment process and also the common myths and mistakes that I have come across. That is why I was particularly keen to document them under a chapter of the same name, Chapter 12, Myths and Mistakes

There is, therefore, a need to simplify the process and to make the access to the predictive tools accessible to all. Because of that, I felt that I possessed the knowledge and experience to meet this need and my personal mission is to:

Inform and influence duty holders, designers and service providers to reduce danger from electrical arcing, by providing quick, simple, accessible and accurate predictive tools coupled with practical advice.

When I founded Electrical Safety UK Limited in 2004, one of my objectives was to be able to predict the level of harm from an arcing incident. After all, “if you can't measure it, you can't manage it”. That is what first led me to the USA to learn about applying the IEEE 1584 Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations from first principles and using written worksheet and a calculator. Improvements in predictive techniques for the arc hazard requires designers in particular to understand that they have a duty to reduce the level of harm to people and equipment from arcing faults. Indeed, it has been my experience that more than 90% of dangerous conditions can be reduced by simple protection device alterations and adjustments. With that in mind, it is technically feasible to protect against excess current in the majority of arcing situations. Whilst this book is predominantly about arc flash from arcing faults, there is much evidence to prove that low level arcing accounts for a great deal of loss of human life and property due to fires.

Anything that I can do to shine a light on these issues and prompt more debate and future research about arcing has got to be welcomed in my view.