Electricity is a powerful force, and it’s no surprise that electrical safety usually comes up in conversation when work safety topics are discussed. An electrical hazard is one of the most dangerous threats workers can face—212 workplace deaths due to electrical current were reported in 2007. It’s estimated almost five percent of all workplace fatalities result from electrocution.
What are Examples of Electrical Hazards?
Electrical hazards come in a variety of forms, but all have the potential to cause serious injury. Common types of electrical hazard include:
- Contact with live wires resulting in electric shock and burns,
- Fires due to faulty wiring,
- Exposed electrical parts,
- Ignition of fires or explosions due to electrical contact with potentially flammable or explosive materials,
- Inadequate wiring,
- Improper grounding, sometimes caused by workers deliberately removing the ground pin on an electric plug to fit a two-prong extension cord,
- Interaction with overhead power lines,
- Damaged wire insulation, causing electrical conductors to make contact with each other, tools, or a worker’s body,
- Overloaded circuits,
- Wet conditions.
General Safety for Electricians
Electricity safety focuses on removing any potential electrical hazard and educating employees on the dangers of improperly working with electricity and electrical equipment. All employees can benefit from a course on Basic Electricity for the Non-Electrician to help them understand how electricity works and electrical work safety topics.
General electrical safety tips include:
- Treating all electrical wires as if they are live.
- Inspecting electrical cords and plugs for damaged insulation and broken ground pins before use.
- Reporting all exposed electrical parts, including wires, terminals, and missing circuit breakers, immediately.
- Checking extension cords ratings to ensure they can handle the load required by electrical equipment before use.
- Storing materials and equipment at least ten feet away from overhead power lines.
- Replacing extension cords and wires with damaged insulation. Do not use tape to repair the damage.
- Never use nails or sharp objects to hang extension cords from the ceiling or walls.
- Never run electrical cords through windows or doors.
- Instead of connecting strips or surge protectors to extension cords, use a three-way extension cord with a GFCI (a fast-acting circuit breaker)
- Keep floors and work surfaces dry to prevent electricity from interacting with water or other liquids.
- Regularly inspect electrical tools and equipment for damage.
Lockout/tagout procedures ensure electrical machines are completely turned off and unable to restart until maintenance and repair work are completed. Lockout/tagout is essential safety for electricians, and anyone operating electrical equipment needs to be trained in the procedure.
Safety for Electricians: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Electricians and employees working with electric equipment need Personal Protective Equipment Training. Non-metal hard hats should be worn, along with rubber or insulating gloves and insulated clothing. Damaged PPE should never be worn, as it provides no protection against electrical hazards
Tool Inspection and Electricity Safety
Examining tools and equipment prior to use can identify an electrical hazard before it becomes a threat. All tools used should be checked regularly for cracks, damaged insulation, broken ground pins, frayed cord lines, or loose parts.
What to do during electrocution
When someone is electrocuted, they may be unable to break the electrical current themselves. If possible, shut off the power source immediately. If this is not possible, do not touch the person—the electric current will flow through the person’s body into your own. Instead, use a non-conducting object such as a wooden pole to remove the person from the electrical source.
Call 911 immediately. While waiting for emergency series, begin CPR if the person isn’t breathing. Keep the person warm, and if possible cover burns with sterile gauze or clean clothes. Do not use blankets or towels, as these contain loose fibers that stick easily to burned areas.
With proper safety for electricians and other employees, you greatly reduce the dangers of electrical hazards. TPC Training offers a wide range of electrical safety courses to help protect against electrical accidents while improving your electrical equipment's performance.