Electrical power can be very dangerous when used improperly. It can hurt or kill people, ignite fires and damage property. Thorough safety practices are useful for minimizing electrical hazards, and they reduce the risk of accidents. Electrical hazards cannot be removed completely, but they can be controlled with the right engineering and educational techniques. People who understand electricity can stay safer at work and at home.
Electrical Shock If a person touches hazardous electrical equipment and a grounded surface at the same time, electrical shock occurs. This is the flow of electrical current from the equipment, through the body and to the ground. The severity of the injury is dependent upon which body parts are affected by the electrical current and how long the flow lasts. Even a tiny amount of electrical current can kill or severely injure a person.
Workplace Protection Only employees who are properly trained and qualified can work on electrical equipment. All types of equipment should be thoroughly inspected regularly by an electrician. Tools, lights and machines should also be inspected to ensure they are operating according to code requirements. Cords should be in good condition and not frayed. If they are frayed or damaged in any way, they should be replaced by a professional.
In damp or wet areas such as the outdoors, kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms, ground fault circuit interrupters should be used. Protect electrical equipment with circuit breakers, and make sure control panels or panels that cover receptacle boxes stay closed when they are not in use. Never touch a damp or wet surface and bare wires at the same time. As a rule, it is best to avoid working in damp conditions whenever possible. Always use tools and equipment for their designated uses only. Immediately report defective equipment, damage, and tools that are not functioning correctly in the workplace. Read any posted warning signs, and always follow the lockout/tagout procedures in the company handbook.
What To Wear And What Not To Wear Avoid wearing any metal jewelry, and always wear eye protection. Rubber-soled boots or shoes are essential when contact with wet or damp surfaces is likely. When working with electricity, use leather or rubber gloves that are safety approved.
Observing Hazards Survey the area for water, spills or dampness. Look closely at ground wires and connections to ensure they are free from breaks and secured tightly. Always check to make sure wiring and circuits are in good repair, and they should never be overloaded. Look for worn spots or breaks in insulation. These pose shock hazards. Analyze equipment frequently for damage, and make sure it is properly maintained to ensure it works correctly. Report any hazards immediately. Any foot or hand protection should be kept in good repair and replaced whenever necessary. Look at gears and belts to ensure the tension is correct and the risk of power overload is minimized.
Emergencies In case of a medical emergency outdoors, call 911. Notify the supervisor, follow emergency protocols and follow all necessary safety procedures. Avoid touching a person who has been shocked, and never try to free the individual using tools. For indoor or low-voltage emergencies, call 911 immediately. Do not touch a grounded person. Turn the power off at the circuit breaker box or fuse. If the shock came from a device with a plug, pull the plug while wearing the proper safety equipment. People who are unable to shut off the power or are unsure how to turn it off should call the power company immediately. Always know the location of power sources, and have a plan ahead of time for how to handle these emergencies. To learn more about this topic, contact ACBI.