Switchgear is a general term that encompasses high and low voltage switches, protection circuits, motor control centres and circuit breakers. Another way to describe switchgear is to regard it as an all embracing term, covering systems that involve the switching of power on and off.

Some switchgear are withdrawable for servicing, others are fixed. The switching itself always involves the separation or closure of two mating parts (excepting electronic equivalents).

Some contacts are in air and for these the maintenance of the localised environment is important, particularly humidity. With other types of circuit breakers, for vacuum circuit breakers, the benign environment comes with the original installation.

Usually switchgear accidents that require investigation involve three phase and voltages of 440V and up. Another feature of this category of accidents is the importance of the number of operations, rather than time. The operator must be aware of equipment recommendations and keep track of the number.

FSA has experience with investigating failures in all these areas of electrical engineering.