Award winning innovation improves safety for electrical industry workers

2017-04-21 - The safety of our customers, suppliers and our employees is the number one priority for ABB. The design and development of a new insulating barrier will help save lives.
It was a safety alert that started a journey which culminated in ABB securing multiple SafeWork Australia award accolades for a new Magnetic Insulated Barrier design.

The insulated barrier shields people working with electrical equipment from live electrical components to provide a safer work environment. The innovative use of flexible magnet strips enables users to easily and safely apply and remove the barrier when working within the vicinity of live components.

The spark that started the idea

The idea resulted from a hazard alert raised by an employee in 2015. The alert detailed an incident where an extra low voltage cable dislodged during testing, causing a spark where the cable came into contact with the equipment’s metal frame. This prompted an investigation into the controls available when working within the vicinity of live parts.

ABB’s review highlighted the need for low voltage control cabinets to remain energised in order to test relays and other low voltage components when fault finding and diagnosing electrical switchgear.

Uncovering an industry-wide safety issue

ABB’s own electrical safety rules state that applying insulated barriers is a critical step to achieving an electrically safe work area. Our review established that this practice was being overlooked during fault finding at ABB and throughout the entire industry.

Upon uncovering this potential risk in fault finding practice, ABB scrutinised government regulations, Australian Standards and Codes of Practice in a search for a solution.

ABB consulted with safety regulators, utilities, customers and competitors to understand how others were mitigating this common-place breach in safe approach distances. In all instances, the risk of contact with live parts when working in low voltage control cabinets had been overlooked, as there were limited solutions available in the market place.

This situation lead to ABB Australia, in conjunction with electrical safety supplier Legend Power Group, to design and develop the new magnetic insulating barrier. The barrier is a lightweight, semi-transparent mat that can be made in various sizes, calibrated and certified to withstand certain voltages. The mat acts as a barrier when placed over potentially live electrical components.

The flexible magnets make it is easy and safe to apply when fault finding low voltage and extra low voltage circuits within switchgear control cabinets.

Tauno Heinola, Managing Director of ABB in Australia
"The safety of our customers, suppliers and our employees is the number one priority for ABB. The development of this new Magnetic Insulated Barrier will help save lives," said Tauno Heinola, Managing Director of ABB in Australia.

"We are proud of our team’s personal initiative and safety leadership, which is reflective of the safety culture we are proud of at ABB Australia."

The product is now available to the electrical safety industry through electrical wholesaler Legend Power Group.
Industry regulators believe the magnetic insulated barrier will help save lives. It was developed by ABB and recently secured multiple SafeWork Australia award accolades.