Almost all electrical injuries are accidental. Many can be prevented with proper hazard identification. Yet, according to OSHA, workers are often unaware of the electrical hazards on the job site. 

Regardless of the job or industry, electricity affects most work environments. Employees are exposed to electrical hazards daily as they perform their job duties.  

Because most employees work with electricity in some way, they are at risk of electrocutions and related injuries. For example, electrical workers work directly on circuits and panels. Team members not on the maintenance staff interact with electricity when using machinery and other energized equipment. In either role, electrical hazards are present.  

To protect workers, it’s critical for employers to offer training in the identification, avoidance, and control of electrical hazards. This can also help prevent employers from being cited by OSHA. The Control of Hazardous Energy standard is the seventh most frequently cited by OSHA.  

According to a report from the National Library of Medicine, most electrical injuries sustained by adults occur in occupational settings. This is the fourth-leading cause of workplace-related, traumatic death. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that electricity accounted for nearly 4,000 workplace injuries in 2019. 

OSHA provides three factors that regularly lead to electrical injuries: 

1. Working with unsafe equipment and installations. Examples include working with improper grounding, unguarded live parts, ground faults in equipment, and loose connections. 

2. Working in unsafe environments, such as those containing wet or damp locations, or job sites that include flammable vapors, liquids, or gases.  

3.Using unsafe work practices. This includes failing to de-energize electric equipment before it is repaired.  

 

Here are some simple steps OSHA provides for working safely with electricity 

  • Provide workers with training about electrical hazards, how to prevent them, and the applicable OSHA standards.  
  • Ground all power supply systems, circuits, and electrical equipment. Use double-insulated tools. 
  • Visually inspect electrical equipment before use and remove any damage equipment from service. Avoid working in wet areas with power tools.  
  • Wear protective clothing when working around electricity, such as electrical-insulating gloves and Dielectric and Electrical Hazard rated rubber-soled footwear.  
  • Use lockout/tagout procedures to disable machinery or equipment for repair.  

 

Need help managing your electrical safety training and job site compliance?  

Check out this Instructor-led Training course 

 

Prefer online learning? Click here for our library. 

 

Additional resources:

https://www.osha.gov/etools/construction/electrical-incidents 

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/98-131/pdfs/98-131.pdf?id=10.26616/NIOSHPUB98131 

 

About the author:

Taylor Sikes is a safety professional with over 15 years of experience. He has served as an OSHA-authorized trainer for construction and general industry, holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Georgia, and has authored numerous courses in workplace safety.

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