Electrocution is one of the most common hazards across construction sites according to OSHA.; however, in any work environment, you want to make sure that it is electrically safe for your employees. Engineers, electricians and overhead line workers are the ones most exposed to electrical hazards but even those working indirectly with electricity (for instance, in an office environment) can be exposed to some of these hazards.
Types of injuries include:
- Electric Shock
Many injuries are a result of:
- Improper grounding (the most common OSHA electrical violation)
- Poorly installed, faulty or ill-maintained electrical equipment and tools
- Faulty, inadequate wiring
- Overloaded or overheated outlets
- Use of flexible leads and extension cables
- Use of electrical equipment with wet hands or near a source of water.
Identify the electrical hazards in your work environment then ensure you plan for and train for your employees’ safety.
Tips to Prevent Workplace Electrical Incidents
Your workplace safety training program is a key element in avoiding electrical injuries. The following tips can be built into your safety processes and protocols.
- Unplug or switch off electrical equipment when not in use or while cleaning, repairing or servicing. All should be turned off at the end of the day.
- Don’t forcefully plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.
- Ensure that two extension cords are not plugged together.
- Do NOT use outlets or cords that have exposed wiring.
- Don’t overload the outlets.
- Place a cover or guard to exposed electrical components or wires.
- Refrain from running electrical cords across doorways, under the carpets, or in high traffic areas. Tape extension cords to walls or floors when necessary but do not use nails or staples.
- Use extension cords only to temporarily supply power to an area that does not have a power outlet.
- Maintain a clearance of at least 3 feet from all electrical panels.
- Use only equipment that is double-insulated and properly grounded.
- Only use electrical equipment that is approved by a national testing laboratory and is rated for the level of amperage or wattage being used
- Regularly check for defects, damage or wear in cords and equipment before each use. Take it out of service if repairs are needed.
- Always use ladders made with non-conductive side rails when working with or near electricity or power lines.
- Risk of electric shock is greater in areas that are wet or damp.
- Lock Out/Tag Out procedures should be performed at all times before starting any electrical maintenance and repairs. DO NOT fix anything unless the person is qualified.