A Guide for Keeping Safe around Electricity
Of all the many safety hazards in the workplace, few can cause as much damage, injury or even death as electricity. To make it worse, accidents with electricity can literally happen in the blink of an eye, which is why it is so important to implement electricity tips for staying safe ahead of time.
For example, according to OSHA,
“In 1999, 278 workers died from electrocutions at work, accounting for almost 5 percent of all on-the-job fatalities that year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
Review the following 8 electricity tips for staying safe in your facility and you will be far less likely to run into any dangerous situations.
Safety Tip #1 – Regular Inspections
One of the most important things you can do to improve electrical safety is to inspect all your electrical systems on a regular basis. Inspections are the best way to identify warning signs of trouble before they turn into major incidents. The following are some key areas to inspect at least annually:
- Electrical Wiring – Someone should take the time to closely look at all the wiring in your facility to ensure it is not damaged or having other issues.
- Electrical Loads – Throughout the year there will be changes and additions to the machinery within the facility. Keeping a close eye on the electrical load within the facility as a whole and the amount of current traveling over specific wires is very important.
- Electrical Connections – Any time there are two or more wires or other connections coming together, that is a point where problems are more likely to occur. Inspect them regularly to ensure there won’t be any issues.
Safety Tip #2 – LockOut/TagOut
Implement the lockout tagout system throughout your facility. This is a system that helps to improve the safety of people who are actively working on machinery. Before they enter a hazardous are of the machine, they will physically remove the power source from the machine and place a lock (similar to the ones found here) on it so the power can’t be restored.
They will hold the only key to that lock to help prevent any accidents. The lock will have a tag on it which will identify who is working on the system, and likely provide other information. This will help to prevent any accidental restoration of power to any machines, which could cause injury from either electrocution or the machine powering up unexpectedly.
Safety Tip #3 – Proper Labeling
One of the best ways to minimize electrical accidents is to make sure everyone is aware of potential risks. Using an industrial label printer (which you can find here), you can create custom labels that can be placed on any high voltage areas or machines that have electrical hazards associated with them.
Vinyl labels can be placed securely in almost any environment, and they will last for years without a problem. These labels can display the fault current, the date that the label was made, and any other important information. This may actually be a requirement for your facility to remain in compliance with the National Electronics Code (NEC) regulation 110.24. Whether it is or not, it is a good electricity tip for staying safe.
Safety Tip #4 – Personal Protection Equipment
Whenever working with any electrical equipment, but especially with high voltage equipment, you need to make sure you are using proper personal protection equipment. This can include rubber gloves and shoes, which will prevent electricity from entering your body through the ground or your hands.
Using tools that are also protected with rubber or other non-conductive materials can further help to reduce the risk of shock.
Safety Tip #5 – Keep Grounded
While the person doing the actual work does not want to be grounded, as this would provide an easy path for electricity to travel through the body and to the ground, it is essential to keep all electrical equipment grounded. By having machines and other electrical devices properly grounded it will make sure the path of least resistance for the current is always within the electrical system itself.
Almost all machines will be grounded when installed, but it is a good idea to confirm that the grounding is still present before doing any type of electrical work. This can normally be done with a simple testing tool that all electricians should have with them.
Safety Tip #6 – Extension Cord Safety
While extension cords may be necessary from time to time, they should only be for short term solutions. In the event that you need to provide power to a certain area for more than a short period of time, you should have a proper electrical line run.
Extension cords can cause electrical hazards as well as increase the risks of tripping. In addition, since these cords are often run across the ground, they can get damaged quite easily, which can make their use even more dangerous.
Safety Tip #7 – Leave it to the Experts
Whenever running electrical cords, or working on high voltage machinery, make sure you have a trained and experienced electrician there to do the job. If you don’t have a full time electrician on staff, you will want to bring in a contractor to do this type of work. Even though you may be tempted to save some money by doing it yourself, this can lead to major dangers down the road.
Safety Tip #8 – Training Training Training
Everyone who is working in the facility should have some sort of electrical tips for staying safe given to them. This can be done when new employees are just hired on as well as periodically for employees who have been working at the facility for a while. Teaching people about basic electrical safety, as well as any specific knowledge they will need for working within your facility, can go a long way toward minimizing electrical hazards. Check out the Electrical Safety General Awareness DVD for a great training resource to get you started.
Taking the time to understand and implement these 8 electricity tips for staying safe will help keep your facility up and running properly. Remember, in addition to keeping employees safer, it will also help to prevent costly damage to the equipment within your facility and extensive downtime related to any electrical accidents that may take place.
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- OSHA Electrical Safety Practices
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