In today’s world we use electricity all day, every day and most of the time we do not really think much about it. But when something goes wrong most people want the cheapest, fastest fix. This is a huge danger when it comes to electrical issues. When assessing potential hazards and being alert, the electrical field can be very safe to work in, but it is not usually work that someone without proper knowledge can safely do a quick, DIY fix.
It is extraordinarily important to ensure that employees are adequately trained and qualified for any electrical tasks they may be performing. Employees should also be aware that it is their right to a safe work environment. When it comes to electrical work, it is crucial to have the right person for the job. If an employee feels they are not comfortable or confident with a task they should speak up and ask for assistance, or find someone else to do the job.
When doing electrical work there are four main electricity-related incidents that can occur:
1. Electrocution – an electrical shock that results in death
2. Shock – sudden discharge of electricity through a part of the body
3. Electrical burns – burns resulting from electrical shock, typically on the hands and/or feet
4. Secondary injuries – injuries resulting from electrical shock; can be life altering
Electrical injuries can almost always be avoided by following safety policies and being aware. Often, electrical shock occurs from faulty appliances or equipment, frayed cords or exposed wires, but there are thousands of ways a person could be shocked if proper safety measures are not followed. The following tips can help prevent electrocution or electrical shock:
- Never use inadequate wiring. Ensure that all wiring is the correct size for the currents flowing through it, you do not want a tool that draws more power than the cord can provide.
- Never overload the circuit. Be cautious with plugging in too many things in one outlet. This can cause arcing and potentially a fire.
- Never operate near wet conditions. Water increases the risk of electrocution greatly when wiring insulation has been damaged. When electrical equipment has gotten wet you should have a certified electrician inspect it before energizing it.
- Never make direct contact with overhead power lines. Many overhead power lines are not insulated and have very high voltages. Always maintain a minimum of 10 feet of distance between you and the power line.
- Never use improper grounding. This is the most common OSHA electrical violation and often occurs when the metal ground pin is removed from a cord. This pin allows unwanted voltage to return to the ground safely.
Electrical incidents occur most in the construction industry and account for 52% of all electrical fatalities in the workplace within the U.S. In fact, five occupational groups are responsible for 80% of all electrical deaths. Electrical work is safe with proper training, certifications or qualifications, but should not be done by someone without adequate knowledge and experience. If employees are exposed to electrical hazards it is the responsibility of the employer to properly train and discuss electrical safety with employees.
SMART Safety offers hundreds of training courses for the workplace, including Electrical Safe Work Practices, to help elevate and strengthen customers’ safety culture. By allowing SMART Safety to focus on the core areas your company needs safety help in, your leadership team can spend time focusing on other business-building aspects. To learn more, visit our Safety Program Management page, or give us a call at (844) 820-8098.
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