Monthly Archives: May 2015

Understanding and Avoiding an Arc Flash Hazard

More than 2,000 workers per year are sent to hospitals and burn centers with injuries due to arc flash injuries. That is a shocking number. But how can you avoid a terrible hazard like this from occurring at your facility?

Before you can understand how to avoid an arc flash, you must understand the problem. An arc flash is an explosive release of energy caused by a low-impedance connection between one phase of an electrical system and another phase, neutral or ground.

But what causes an arc flash? There are several scenarios that can cause this hazardous situation.

  • Coming close to a high-amp source with a conductive object, causing the electricity to flash over.
  • Dropping a tool or creating a spark can ignite an arc flash.
  • Any breaks or gaps in insulation.
  • Dust, corrosion or any other impurities residing on the surface of the conductor.
  • Equipment failure due to improper installation, substandard parts or even normal wear and tear over time can cause an arc flash.

To see some of these scenarios for yourself, watch Mersen’s Arc Flash mitigation product video to view test lab footage showing how their fuses reduce damage to equipment and PPE.

Now that you know what can cause an arc flash, how do you reduce the risk? The Mersen Arc Flash Info Center pulled together a great overview of ways to reduce the risk of arc flash in your facility. Here is a summary.

  • Be sure to have the correct fuses on hand. Out of stock and outdated fuses increase the potential for dangerous misapplications.
  • Provide safety training for your staff. Create customized training for various targeted audiences to help emphasize the importance of accurate fuse replacement.
  • Use finger-safe devices and low-voltage disconnect switches when possible. We recommend the Mersen UltraSafe fuse holders are the industry’s first finger-safe power distribution block.
  • Learn more about mitigating arc flash hazards. Mersen offers regional engineering seminars, many specializing in arc flash protection.

If you’re interested in learning more about what causes an arc flash and how to reduce the risk or an arc flash, give your French Gerleman Account Manager a call or contact us.


Featured Product: Thomas & Betts – Blackburn® Hex-Flex® Die System

The growing popularity of flexible-conductor cable, commonly referred to as flex cable, has created challenges and headaches for installers.

Due to the nature of flexible conductors, in certain applications, the traditional hex-style crimp leaves the connection vulnerable to a reduction in pull-out ratings. The indent-style crimp works better than the hex-style crimp, but creates the same problem on flex cable as it does on code cable — lack of ability to inspect for a proper crimp.



Thomas & Betts engineers solved this dilemma by developing a solution that brings the best of both worlds to crimping flex cable —Color-Keyed® HEX-FLEX™ crimp dies. The HEX-FLEX™ crimp uses a hex-shaped upper die to create an inspectable, verifiable, embossed hex crimp on the top side of the connector, with an indenter as the lower die to create an indent crimp with superior pull-out resistance on the bottom of the connector.

A Hex-Flex connection is quick with four easy steps. And each crimp takes less than a minute.


  • Unique dies provide a high-performance crimp on flex cables that can be inspected and verified
  • Can be used on flex cable as well as code wire (consult accompanying chart for proper die and tool selection)
  • Creates a hex-style crimp on the top and an indent-style crimp on the bottom — in one easy step
  • Color-coded for easy matching with Color-Keyed® lugs and splices to eliminate costly installation errors
  • Die-code embossed on connection for easy inspection and verification
  • Full range of sizes available to cover flex conductor sizes M through K
  • Fit most existing 6- and 14-ton T&B compression tools, as well as 15-ton tools with 15500-TB adapter — no additional tool investment required
  • Dies made from high-carbon tool steel with black oxide plating for durability, corrosion resistance and long service life
  • Creates a UL Listed, CSA Certified connection when used on Color-Keyed® compression connectors with flex/24 plus classes B, C, G, H, I, K and M


This video demonstrates the simple, four-step process to make a UL Listed / CSA Certified connection using the Blackburn® HEX-FLEX® Die System, for a high-quality connection at a low installed cost.

Ask your French Gerleman representative for information on the Thomas & Betts’ Blackburn® Hex-Flex® Die System and complementary compression tools.


National Electrical Safety Month – Effective Lockout Programs

Did you know that May is National Electrical Safety Month? It’s a campaign sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to promote electrical safety in the home, school and workplace.

According to the ESFI, raising awareness of electrical hazards is the key to reducing injuries and death in the home and workplace. This week’s blog will focus on lockout/tagout safety.

Lockout/tagout, or LOTO, is a safety procedure to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and not started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or servicing work. This is an extremely important procedure that should never be overlooked.

Our vendor partner, Brady, shared an excellent white paper titled “Beyond the Products: 5-Steps to An Effective Lockout Program.”  Brady, who is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, is a global leader in providing LOTO solutions. They were the first to respond to the OSHA legislation in 1990 and they have maintained its position as the leading LOTO solutions provider.


Here’s a brief summary of their whitepaper on the steps to an effective lockout program:

Step #1

The first step in an effective lockout program is to develop energy control policy/program. A written lockout document is integral to an effective program- it establishes the nuts and bolts. OSHA provides a LOTO tutorial that has great information on developing an energy control policy or program.

Step #2

The next step is to create written, equipment-specific lockout procedures. It is important for lockout procedures to be formally documents and must identify the equipment covered. You should detail the specific steps necessary for shutting down, isolating, securing and blocking equipment to control hazardous energy.

OSHA requires each machine have its own written program and each procedure must be reviewed annually.  French Gerleman has have found many customers have not completed these procedures, are behind due to equipment changes, are not reviewing their programs annually or are in need of an upgrade to their programs.  Together with Brady, French Gerleman offers a Visual Lockout Procedures (VLOP) service to develop and install machine procedures customized by industry experts for your facility.

Step #3

The third step is to identify energy control points. Locate and mark all energy control points, including switches, breakers, plugs and valves, with permanent labels or tags. Brady offers a complete line of labels and tags for various energy sources. For your convenience, Brady has a portable and industrial label maker that will produce custom labels and also link to the Brady LINK360 software procedure output.

Step #4

Step four, which is an extremely vital step, is training, communication and inspection. Establish a formal training program for employees based on the three categories of lockout, including “Authorized”, “Affected”, and “Other” employees. Brady offers safety training and seminar services for both the Authorized and Affected employee groups. They can also create custom lockout training programs tailored to your workplace.

Step #5

The final step in creating an effective lockout program is providing proper protective products. You must equip your employees with the proper lockout tools and warning devices to keep them safe. It’s important to know and document which devices are acceptable for use at every lockout point. Brady has published a Circuit Breaker Lockout Reference Guide, along with other advisory information documents, to help you determine what safety procedures you need to take.

In the end, the best practice lockout programs go beyond the products and must take into account the employees, machine specific requirements and the facility environment. If you would like more information beyond the whitepaper, Brady has also developed a downloadable eBook “The Safety Professional’s Expanded Guide to Lockout Tagout.”

Interested in learning more about LOTO programs or creating an effective VLOP program for your workplace? Contact Melissa Skaggs at 314-213-5867 or  We would be happy to work with you to create an effective program that works for you.