Electrical hazards may not be the leading cause of on-the-job injuries but when they do occur they are more fatal and more costly than other accidents and fatalities. As is the case with most workplace accidents, the key to prevention is awareness.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes electricity as a long-time serious workplace hazard. OSHA has particular electrical standards designed to protect employees from electric shock, electrocution, fires and explosions and it is easy to see why. Every 30 minutes during the average work week; a worker is severely injured from electricity. These injuries require time off from work but worse than that recovery from electrical shocks and burns is slow and painful. The four main types of injuries associated with electricity-related accidents are electrocution, electric shock, burns, and falls caused as a result of contact with electrical energy.
So how can such dangerous, painful, and costly electrical injuries be prevented? What follows are some basic but important safety measures that must be taken before beginning any electrical work:
- Begin each job by identifying electric shock, arc flash, and any other potential hazards.
- Always wear protective clothing and equipment and use insulated tools when electrical hazards may be present.
- De-energized electrical equipment and conductors should be considered energized until all lockout/tagout, test, and ground procedures have been implemented.
- Never work on electrical equipment that hasn’t been de-energized.
- Test circuits and conductors before you touch them. Do this each and every time.
- Always isolate equipment from energy sources.
- Make sure you are using the right tools for specific jobs.
- Confirm that employees are qualified and properly trained before they begin work on a job.
Finally, make sure that all OSHA standards are adhered to avoid electrical accidents. Year after year, failure to comply with lockout/tagout standard is one of the top OSHA violations. Also high on the list of OSHA violations are electrical-wiring methods and general electrical requirements.
Whether you own a large manufacturing plant or a small business that oversees minor electrical insulation’s, electrical safety procedures must be adhered to. This will ensure that you don’t face expensive fines and penalties if you are not in compliance with OSHA electrical safety standards. Most important, it will make sure that your employees are as safe as possible.