Electricians have the difficult and dangerous job of working with “live” electrical current. Since one simple mistake can have disastrous results, it’s vital to learn and religiously practice electrical safety.
Why is Electrical Safety so Important?
Every year, approximately 175 deaths occur in the electrical trades from accidents involving uncontrolled exposure to electricity. These incidents may occur when shortcuts are taken or safety procedures are ignored. The result could potentially cause:
- Loss of life
- Permanent disfigurement
- Lost work time
- Increased workers’ compensation costs
- Costly lawsuits
Electricity naturally comes with the threat of shock or electrocution. For example, an electrician may have accidentally touched an overhead power line.
If you were to come into direct contact with electricity, it can flow through your body, leaving burns to muscular or skin tissues. In the worst case scenario, electrical current can cause vital organs to cease functioning.
Common Electrical Hazards:
- Exposed wires
- Energized parts
- Faulty or broken wiring or equipment
- Damaged outlets
- Worn electrical cords
- Improperly used extension cords
- Overloaded outlets
How to Protect Yourself
Understand Electric Shock and Electrocution
Education is key to increasing electrical safety. You should always know the risks involved with physically touching live electrical parts. It’s also important to understand that the severity of injuries mostly depends on the rate at which the current is flowing, the length of time the current flows through your body and the path the current takes.
Recognize Potential Hazards
As an electrician, you should always identify and eliminate potential hazards before starting work.
- Avoid water
- No frayed cords
- Use insulated tools
- Wear rubber gloves and goggles
Follow OSHA Requirements
OSHA requirements are also in place to increase electrical safety. The regulations specify, among other things, that only qualified employees can work on electrical equipment and systems.
Other requirements include:
No work should be done on exposed, energized parts of equipment or systems until:
- A responsible and qualified supervisor makes the decision.
- Workers have been trained about the hazards and techniques of their job.
- Personal protective equipment must be issued.
- Necessary barriers, barricades, tags or warning signs must be in place.
Follow Safety Guidelines
Using proper protective devices, like these, reduce the risk of shock or electrocution.
- Circuit breakers
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
In addition, do not store your machinery or equipment near “live” lines. If you are unsure whether a wire is “live,” always assume that it is until you know otherwise.