Electricity is an important source of energy for most work-related operations. As a result, those who maintain these electrical systems have a valuable role—keeping these systems operational. Not only is the worker’s role valuable, it’s also dangerous. To avoid fatal injuries, make sure your employees have the proper training and use the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). It’s also important to remember that only qualified persons may work on electrical equipment or systems.
Avoid contact with live electrical systems
Fatal injuries can occur if any part of an employee’s body meets an energized electrical system, even if a small amount of current is flowing. Remind your employees to treat every electrical wire or system as if it were live until proven otherwise. The first step is to turn off the electricity before working on it, whenever feasible. Other steps to follow include:
- Make sure switch enclosures and outlets are free of cracks.
- Confirm that electrical boxes and enclosures have a faceplate/cover to prevent contact with energized wires.
- Ensure conduit systems are properly mounted and grounded.
- Verify that all electrical systems are properly wired to include electrical systems used in damp or wet conditions.
Water and electricity can be a fatal combination
Damp areas often serve as shortcuts for electricity. If a worker’s hands are sweaty, if socks and shoes are moist or damp, if the floor is wet, or if the worker is standing in a puddle of water, the moisture will allow more current to pass through the body. These conditions can happen at any time, but especially during wet winter months.
If work must be done in damp areas, the qualified person must recognize the hazards and take necessary precautions. These include, but are not limited to rubber gloves and boots, rubber mats, insulated tools, and rubber sheets to cover exposed metal.
Keep electrical systems in good condition
If electrical equipment is physically damaged or determined to be faulty, it should not be used. The defective electrical equipment should be:
- Tagged as “Do not use or operate”
- Repaired or replaced
Anyone feeling the slightest tingling or shock must stop using the equipment immediately. If someone detects the smell of a hot or burning substance, they need to turn the power to the equipment off immediately. The same applies if smoke, sparks, or flickering lights are detected. If you do not know whether your workplace has a properly wired electric system, have a licensed electrician take a look at it.
Coming in contact with unsafe wires and using unsafe equipment can lead to serious injuries or worse. Remind your employees to check the equipment for physical damage, use the proper PPE, take extra precaution in wet conditions, and avoid coming in contact with electricity.