Does the act of using a hot stick involve a likelihood of occurrence of an arc flash incident?
The 'act' of performing work on Electrical Equipment raises the potential of Component failure.
First, examine the application of using (and this is the Brand name) a Chicken Switch on a Distribution Circuit Breaker. The mechanism is in place and remotely - with no other connection otherwise - you activate the mechanism to open the CB. So this is why you are asking the incomplete question and I will answer: you do not need 'contact' PPE (but always Ear Plugs, Safety Glasses, etc.).
Here is a typical application for the use of a Hot Stick: 30' Fiberglass Pole with a Hook. From the Factory Floor, use the Hot Stick to drop the Handle on the overhead Buss Swing Plug. IF there is an Arc Flash, you are over 30' away. Albeit, 30' below - Ear Plugs, Safety Glasses, Hard Hat, etc. Depending on the Company policy, more PPE may be required. While there is a potential of Component failure for turning OFF a Disconnect, there is even a more likelihood of failure when turning ON a Disconnect Switch (with the highest probability of failure the very first time and towards the End-Of-Life).
I've personally been involved in a Arc Flash incident when opening a medium voltage fused cutout on an outdoor transformer installation. The fused cutout, being rather old, had a cracked insulator section that fell apart when opening the fuse holder mechanism. It was pretty spectacular, but fortunately the hot stick was 10 feet long and I was not directly under the cutout and I was wearing appropriate PPE.
So my answer is YES, there is always a chance of a Arc Flash hazard. The severity of the hazard depends on the available short circuit current, the means used to operate the device in question, the distance from the device and the PPE being used by the person.
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