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Prevention Award: ANSTO

ANSTO received a commendation for the 2018 Comcare Work Health and Safety Prevention Award.

Video transcript


The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) operates the OPAL Nuclear Research Reactor. The OPAL Reactor is a multipurpose research reactor that accommodates needs for Australian medical, industrial and scientific communities.

The problem and/or challenge

The OPAL Reactor facility is powered by a high-current electrical distribution system and during electrical switchboard switching operations, potential faults may exist resulting in a short circuit condition. Such faults can release significant energy in the form of an “Electrical arc flash”, commonly known as the “fire” that ejects out of an electrical switchboard under a short circuit or fault condition. Following a recent incident, an electrical arc flash safety program commenced with an aim of preventing potential injuries to operators during switching activities.

The approach and outcome

The Electrical Arc Flash Safety Program was initiated in collaboration with the University of New South Wales and a postgraduate intern. The program was developed with a team of ANSTO electrical engineers and supported by senior managers. A comprehensive electrical arc flash calculation was conducted based on several international standards to determine the potential energy release from each individual switchboard assuming a possible fault condition. Hazard control measures were then implemented based on calculated potential energy release during an arc flash incident, these included:

  • redesigning electrical switchboards
  • installation of arc flash mitigation devices > improved hazard signage and standardised use of arc flash resistant PPE.

Key achievements

  • The project and outcomes have been shared with staff through training and toolbox meetings.
  • This project has been promoted both internally and externally by the collaborative efforts of multiple stakeholders.
  • Internal training organisers were involved in organising presentations to general staff within Nuclear Operations to raise their awareness of this potential hazard even though they may not be exposed to it.
  • This project has also been promoted by senior management to other nuclear reactor operators in other countries during the cooperative meetings held by OPAL reactor facility.

Further information

For further information on ANSTO’s entry and project, please email Roger Cheng, Electrical Engineer, ANSTO.


Page last updated: 18 Oct 2018