Arc Week Episode 4: When Arcs Attack; Defending Yourself from an Arc

Tyndale presents Arc Week: a unique, week-long educational look at the world of arc flash hazards through the lens of Shark Week. Join Scott Margolin – our dedicated technical expert by day and passionate shark enthusiast in his free time – for engaging, memorable parallels that bring important lessons about risk protection and PPE to life. Follow along at

Sharks are miraculous hunters, but they’re nowhere near as dangerous to humans as TV and movies would have you believe. The fact is, electric arcs injure more people each year in the United States than sharks do – and usually more severely.

Interestingly, almost none of the shark attack injuries are suffered by people who intentionally encountered sharks as part of a planned shark dive, but the opposite is true for arc flash victims. Most arc flash injuries in the United States actually happen to people who knew they were at risk and didn’t take the proper precautions.

Why is that, and what can we do about it? Scott Margolin – our resident arc flash expert who has also spent 30 years diving with some of the world’s most dangerous sharks in his free time – explains:

  • Shark bites during planned shark dives are rare because when they know they’ll be encountering the potential for a shark bite, shark divers emphasize behavioral safety and wear the appropriate PPE.
  • In contrast, most arc flash injuries and fatalities occur when workers were working energized – that is, in an arc-infested work zone – while wearing flammable clothing or improperly wearing AR clothing.
  • In an arc flash, it’s rarely the arc flash itself that causes the most catastrophic injuries and deaths. Instead, clothing that is not arc-rated (AR) or flame resistant acts as fuel, igniting and continuing to burn against your skin when the thermal hazard is over.
  • We can significantly reduce or eliminate burn injuries from the equation by replacing flammable clothing with AR clothing. Unlike flammable clothing, AR clothing will not ignite or continue to burn once the thermal hazard is over. It also dramatically reduces or eliminates burn injury because it also insulates you from the hazard.

Significantly, AR clothing brands and styles have come a long way in the last few years. In fact, the AR of today is nearly indistinguishable in terms of style, weight, comfort, and wash-ability from the clothing you wear off the clock. And, OSHA clarified its stance in recent years that employers are required to provide – at their expense – and ensure proper maintenance of sufficient FR clothing matched to the hazard. So, with comfortable AR readily available, please don’t be “fuelish.” Wear it and wear it well.

You can walk away from most sharks, and most electric arcs, if you’re aware of the risks and get and use the appropriate PPE.

Have a flash fire – rather than an arc flash – hazard? The principle is the same: don’t be “fuelish.” Flame resistant clothing (FRC) works, and this has been proven time and time again. Survivors who wear FR and wear it properly often walk away miraculously unharmed, returning home to their families and resuming normal quality of life after a flash fire incident that would have otherwise been fatal.

Are your workers ready for a possible arc attack?

  • Outfit workers with proper AR clothing, for both safety and compliance. Explore the products in our warehouse and contact us today to create a clothing program that fits your company’s unique protective, budgeting, and image needs. Whether you’re shopping for yourself, a handful of employees, or an entire workforce, Tyndale has a solution for you.
  • Already in a Tyndale program? Order today to make sure you have the AR clothing and PPE you need to stay safe.

Tune in tomorrow as we conclude our series with the premiere of Arc Week Episode 5: Arc Attack Files – a look at the devastating real world implications of “swimming in dangerous waters” without the right PPE.

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