Electrical Services

Preventing Electrical Hazards Is Essential For Workplace Safety

Electricity is a powerful and dangerous force. It can burn and dismember your body in a split second.

Electrocutions caused by wiring hazards (including household and equipment wiring) account for about 20% of all electrical deaths. Overhead power lines that drop down in stormy weather cause another 9% of electrocutions.

electrical safety

Identify The Hazards

Electrical Hazards can cause fires, electric shock, or electrocution resulting in life-changing injuries or death. Although some industries are more at risk than others, all workplaces should consider the risks of poor maintenance and incorrect use of equipment. The good news is that most electrical hazards can be prevented with simple and effective steps.

Faulty or damaged wiring and related electrical equipment cause 69 percent of all home electrical fires. Overloaded outlets, extension cords, and using old or defective appliances can also lead to fires in the workplace.

Most electrical equipment must be tested and inspected regularly to ensure that it is safe to use. This is especially true for high-risk equipment such as overhead lines, power tools, and machinery. This process can be time-consuming and requires careful documentation of all results to create an Electrical Certificate of Compliance (CoC) for the site. However, a new technology enables electrical inspectors to document their findings and observations electronically, eliminating the need to manually complete paperwork and improving efficiency in the field.

The most common electrical hazard is a live wire or circuit that can give employees a deadly shock if touched. Many people are unaware that if their body is wet or they are standing on metal, they can be a conductor of electricity and may experience a fatal shock.

Inadequate insulation on electrical wires can also result in a dangerous situation. Insulation can deteriorate over time due to wear, rodents, and moisture – increasing the risk of exposure and short circuits. A faulty fuse or circuit breaker can also cause equipment malfunction and increase the risk of injury.

All electricians and electrical workers should be trained to identify potential hazards and take the proper precautionary measures to avoid them. This includes checking for signs that equipment is faulty such as heat, sparks, or smoke, and ensuring that it is not used in wet environments.

Employees should also take care not to leave junction boxes, switchgear, or cabinets open when not in use and be aware of the signs that indicate they are energized. They should follow Lockout/Tagout procedures in the event they need to access energized equipment for servicing or repairs.

Identify The Sources Of The Hazards

Many jobs involve working with electricity directly, including engineers, electricians, and construction workers. Other employees, such as office workers and salespeople, may also be exposed to electrical hazards. Electricity can cause a variety of injuries, including electric shock, burns, and fires. Identifying and avoiding these risks is essential for workplace safety.

Electrical hazards can result from equipment and wiring that is not properly insulated, overheating, or damaged. These hazards can cause an arc flash, which can lead to serious injury and/or death. Overheating can also ignite flammable materials or dust, which can cause a fire. In addition, improper use of extension cords can increase the risk of accidents by creating tripping and overheating hazards.

Overhead and buried power lines are hazardous because they carry high voltage and pose the risk of fatal electrocution or falls from elevations. Other risks include fires, cuts from tools, and burns from contact with hot surfaces.

The most common source of electrical hazards in the workplace is wiring and equipment that is not properly insulated or maintained. Over time, insulation can deteriorate due to wear and tear or rodent activity. This can expose wires to moisture and increase the risk of short circuits, electric shock, and fires.

Insufficient grounding is another common electrical hazard. This can allow electricity to flow back through the worker’s body, causing injuries such as electric shock or arc flash burns. It is important to inspect and repair all wiring and equipment, especially extension cords, to reduce these hazards.

Other sources of electrical hazards in the workplace are inadequate lockout/tagout procedures and unsafe use of hand tools and equipment. It is important to train employees in these procedures and to make sure they are aware of the risks associated with them. All equipment should be visually inspected before being used to look for signs of damage such as cracks in the insulation, broken ground pins, or frayed cord lines. Additionally, it is important to use only insulated tools and not to plug extensions or power cords into each other. Lastly, it is essential to avoid tripping hazards by ensuring that all extension and power cords are not stretched across walkways or stapled under rugs or furniture.

Identify The Personal Protective Equipment

The fact is that while electricity has helped humankind reach unimaginable heights, it also poses serious risks. These dangers include electric shock, electrocution, burns, and explosions. Hundreds of people die and thousands more are injured each year on the job due to electrical accidents, and most of these tragedies are preventable. Thankfully, personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to help keep workers safe from these dangerous situations. PPE includes a variety of clothing items, such as insulated gloves or sleeves and arc flash-rated protective work wear, along with head protection, eye or face protection, and footwear. Employees need to understand that the PPE they need to wear will vary depending upon the level of electricity they are exposed to in their workplace environment.

For example, if an employee needs to open and close an electric panel or switch that is live, they may need to use a tool to remove a cover or screw. In these types of situations, an employee could inadvertently touch a live electrical part and be exposed to an electrical shock hazard. In these cases, PPE should be worn that is rated to withstand the voltage of the live electrical part.

Similarly, if an employee needs to be inside a substation where there is the possibility of arc flash hazards, they will need PPE that is rated for those specific dangers. This will likely include arc flash-rated clothing and an arc flash hazard calculation performed by the employer. The calculation will determine the incident energy of the workplace and then appropriate PPE will be chosen to reduce this risk to a safe level.

In addition to this basic safety equipment, a worker may also need to bring their electrical safety tools to the job site. These might include a volt meter for checking the voltage of an outlet or a circuit breaker tester to see what the current is at a certain point in the system. It is also a good idea to carry a first aid kit with medical supplies to deal with any injuries that may occur as a result of working around electricity.

Identify The Emergency Procedures

While taking steps to prevent electrical emergencies such as fires and electric shocks can help, people need to understand what needs to be done if an emergency does occur. This includes how to deal with things like faulty wiring, overheated plugs that are about to melt, and fallen power lines. It’s also essential for people to have a plan in place if an electrical accident happens while they are at work so that they know what to do to keep themselves safe.

The first step in an electrical accident is to isolate the power source by opening the appropriate disconnecting switch or circuit breaker. This will stop the flow of electricity and prevent any further damage to the person who has been shocked. The next step is to remove the victim from the source of electricity. This can be done by cutting contact between the victim and the electrical source using an insulated object such as a piece of wood, a dry piece of conduit, or a rubber electrical cord. The victim should then be checked for a pulse and given CPR if necessary.

If someone is still connected to the electricity, it’s important not to touch them because this could cause a second shock and potentially lead to death. It’s essential to keep a distance of at least 20 feet between the victim and the source of electricity, especially if it is jumping or sparking. It’s also important to turn off the power at the breaker box if possible to avoid further damage.

Lastly, it’s important to stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately. Attempting to retrieve a downed line or even go near it can be very dangerous as electricity can travel up to several feet in the air and shock whoever touches it.

If you are unsure about how to handle an electrical accident at work, be sure to speak with your supervisor or HR team for further information. Regular maintenance of your home’s electrical systems and appliances can also help to protect against any accidents that may happen.