Electrical safety training is as important for employees who work with low voltage systems as it is for those operating at higher voltages. Myths and misconceptions about low voltage safety, such as the erroneous belief low voltage arc flash doesn’t occur, put employees health and safety at risk.
What Voltage is Considered Safe?
Low voltages of 50 V or less are generally considered hazard free, but even at this level of energy safety isn't guaranteed. Exposure to electrical current at even low voltages can burn skin and tissue, cause muscles to seize up and spasm, and cause heart fibrillation. The risk of such events is lower than at higher voltages, but the potential still remains. Working on low voltages while wearing metal jewelry and watches is a common cause of burned skin when the metal comes into contact with low voltage current.
An employee’s personal body chemistry may make him more susceptible to low voltage damage: While one individual can make contact with 40 volts and barely feel it, another may experience muscle spasms. Such spasms are themselves dangerous, as they can lead to falls or contact with higher voltage lines
The common misconception that low voltages aren’t hazardous encourages lax safety procedures among employees and careless handling of live wiring. Even at voltages higher than 50V, the belief that lower voltages are not as dangerous as higher voltages persists. Low voltage technician training dispels these myths, reminding employees 100V can be as deadly as 10,000V.
Low Voltage Arc Flash
Proper low voltage training impresses upon employees the dangers of low voltage arc flash. It’s a common misconception that arc flashes don’t happen at low voltages. This simply isn't true. Low voltage arc flashes can and do occur, producing extreme temperatures, explosions, severe burns, and hearing damage.
A lack of low voltage training puts employees working with lower voltages at more risk of arc flash injuries that y employees working on high-voltage systems where the dangers of arc flash are better understood and respected. Low voltage technician training should impress upon employees the possibility of arc flash at 600 volts or lower, how to reduce the risk of arcing events, and the need for proper protective clothing.
Low Voltage Safety Tips
Low voltage technician training may include brushing up on electrical safety and protection, arc flash safety, or providing basic electrical training to non-electricians working with low voltage systems. The following safety tips can help reduce accidents when working with 600 volts or lower:
- Use a voltage measuring device to verify actual voltage levels before starting work and every time work resumes.
- Shut off electrical current whenever possible.
- Always use insulated tools, no matter how low the voltage.
- Avoid all contact with bare terminals or grounded surfaces.
- Check for stray voltage when working near metallic or conductive objects.
- Wear insulated gloves, boots, and other PPE designed to increase resistance.
- Do not wear metal jewelry or watches when working on electrical systems.
Low voltage training is as vital for electrical safety as it is for working with higher voltages. Just as a gun should always be treated as if it’s loaded, so too should electrical systems always be treated as if their current and voltage are high enough to cause injury.