Every 30 minutes throughout the duration of the work day, an employee is hurt so severely from electricity that time off from work for recovery is essential. Recovery from electrical burns and shock is both excruciating and slow. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies electricity as an ongoing serious workplace hazard. According to OSHA, its electrical principles are intended to protect workers vulnerable to hazards causing electrocutions, electric shock, fires and even explosions.
Nearly 3 million professionals partake in daily job activities where lockout/tagout procedures ought to be used. However, too many individuals still put themselves needlessly at risk by functioning energized or neglecting to properly comply with their company’s lockout/tagout procedures. Failure to follow lockout/tagout standards is listed as one of the top OSHA violations year after year.
Matter of fact, two other electrical-related violations are so common, they also reappear year after year, always making it on the top 10 OSHA violations list: electrical-wiring methods and general electrical requirements.
There are four principal injuries that can arise as a result of electricity-related industrial accidents: electrocution (which is deadly), electric shock, burns, and falls (caused as a result of coming in contact with electrical energy).
Whether working at a large manufacturing company or on a small DIY project, there are several guidelines that ought to serve as a helpful reminder of fundamental electrical safety practices.
It is always imperative to be certain that a worker is adequately trained and qualified for a job. Not understanding the job conditions and hazards can lead to potentially fatal accidents. Even adequately qualified employees are vulnerable to accidents. That’s why it’s vital to make safety a priority for every single job, no matter how big or small.
Some important safety tips to help avoid injuries include:
- Recognize electric shock and arc flash hazards, as well as other risks that could arise (ie. a warm outlet could indicate unsafe wiring conditions, in which case you should unplug any cords and have a certified electrician check the wiring).
- Always know the location of the panel and circuit breakers in case of an emergency.
- Use the correct tools (ie. extension cords and equipment that are rated for the level of amperage or wattage you are using) and inspect (equipment, extension cords, power bars, and electrical fittings) for wear and tear before using them.
- When needed, always tape extension cords to walls and/or floors. Staples and nails can damage the extension cord causing shock and fire hazards.
- Keep equipment away from energy sources.
- Test every circuit and conductor before touching it.
- Only approach electrical equipment and conductors when de-energized.
- Lock out/tag out and ground prior to working on equipment.
- Assume de-energized electrical equipment and conductors are energized until lockout/tagout, test, and ground procedures are executed.
- Wear clothing and equipment that are protective and use insulated tools in areas where there are possible electrical hazards.
- When working with or in close proximity to electricity and/or powerlines, choose a ladder that has non-conductive side rails.
- Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) near areas that are wet or damp. GFCI’s have the ability to interrupt electrical circuit before a currect strong enough to cause death or serious injury can occur.
- Substitute damaged 3-prong plugs and be certain the third prong is properly grounded.
- Do not come in contact with an individual electrical apparatus in the event of an electrical accident. The power source must always be disconnected first.
Following these basic safety tips will help avoid grave – or even life-threatening – injuries while working with electrical equipment.