Workplace electrical safety – not to be taken lightly
30 January 2015
Electrical safety is not a matter to be taken lightly, especially in the workplace. When proper precautions are not taken, electrical hazards may occur resulting in serious injury or even death. Before embarking on any type of electrical work, you can ensure your safety and the safety of those around you by thinking things through and following a few simple safety tips.
- Have a detailed job plan and be familiar with it. Communicate this plan to all workers on the job. Know the safety requirements that pertain to the job and follow them.
- Be familiar with the electrical equipment you are working with and the hazards it can present. If you are unfamiliar with the equipment, learn how to use it before you start the job.
- Research and identify all possible energy sources that could pose a hazard.
- Be sure to identify all load circuits prior to working.
- Wear protective gear and use electrically rated tools while working around electrical systems; this may include electrical gloves, rated steel-toed boots, thick heavy leather gloves, insulated tools, safety glasses, face shield (worn with safety glasses) and non-conductive head protection (like Class A hard hats that provide limited protection against electricity up to 2,200 volts or Class B hard hats that are highly resistant to electricity up to 20,000 volts)
- Make sure that all test instruments and equipment (volt meters, ammeters, ohm meters) and associated leads, cables, power cords, probes, and connectors are inspected for external defects and damage before using them. DO NOT use defective or damaged equipment.
- Always test before you touch….NEVER assume that a system is de-energized.
- Be sure to use approved fuse handling equipment that is insulated for the circuit voltage to remove or install fuses. NEVER use a non-insulated tool to remove a fuse. Doing so can result in death.
- Ensure the test equipment you are using is working properly before and after you use it.
- Follow your instincts….if it seems like a job is becoming more hazardous than you originally anticipated, stop what you are doing and re-evaluate. It could save you from serious injury or even death. The facts as provided by the Electrical Safety Foundation International…
- Electrical hazards cause more than 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries in the workplace each year.
- Electrical accidents rank sixth among all causes of work-related deaths in the United States. They cause an average of 13 days away from work and nearly one fatality every day.
- The nonfatal workplace incidents that cause the highest number of days away from work include contact with an electrical current or a machine, tool, appliance or light fixture (38 percent), and contact with wiring, transformers or other electrical components (33 percent).
Remember, by following a few simple steps and being aware of your surroundings, you can save yourself from serious harm.