Reports find that around 1000 accidents at work involving electric shocks or burns are recorded every year. Faulty equipment can cause shocks that are severe and lead to permanent injury and can also lead to indirect injuries, due to falls from ladders, scaffolds, or other work platforms. That old saying is true, if the shock wont kill you, the fall will. Surprisingly, over half of those killed are not linemen, electricians, technicians, etc., but are from related fields, such as painters, construction workers, plumbers, drivers, and almost every type of industry that works around electricity. Faulty electrical appliances can also lead to fires as well as causing injuries and loss of life, fires cause damage to plant, equipment and property. Follow these guidelines to keep you and your co-workers safe on the job site and even at home.
Respect the power of electricity
Accidental contact with electrical currents can cause injury, fire, extensive damage, and even death. It is very important to remember that working with and around electricity requires your full attention and respect.
Be able to recognize hazards
This is true for ALL EMPLOYEES, not just the one who work on electrical equipment. Employee must be trained to recognize signs that a hazard exist. A warm tool, an extension cord that feels warm or is kinked up, breakers that keep tripping, or open or exposed junctions boxes, are all warning signs that a hazard is close by and it should be inspected.
Inform your supervisor of faulty equipment
It is very important that you immediately inform your supervisor of any faulty equipment so it can be repaired or replaced. Don’t attempt to repair the tool yourself. Lock out the equipment or, at the very least, tag it so others are aware that the equipment is damaged.
Wear protective clothing
You should make it part of your routine to wear rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes or boots, especially if you are working around electricity in a damp environment. Of course, you know that water and electricity do not mix, but how often do you think about other liquids, such as grease, oil or solvents? Do not make the mistake of believing that, regardless of your action, protective articles alone will protect you. Remember to do your best to avoid making any contact with electricity.
Regularly inspect your tools
Inspect your electrical tools on a regular basis, including the large tools such as table saws, drill presses and bench grinders. Test your equipment first before starting to work. If any tool gives you a slight shock or smokes and sparks when the power is turned on, don’t use it, and notify your supervisor immediately.
Inspect the power cords
Check the insulation around the power cord to make sure it is in good condition. You should not see any exposed wires or frayed ends. Power cords in poor condition should be replaced, never taped or spliced. Check the plug at the end of the cord to make sure the prongs are secure in the plug and none are missing. If one of the prongs is missing, do not use the tool. If you notice one of the tongs on the plug is slightly larger than the other, do not attempt to trim the tong down to match the smaller one. These tongs are polarized to protect you from shock. When you unplug cords from the outlet, remember to pull on the plug and not the cord.
Make sure electrical equipment is properly grounded
Properly grounded electrical equipment can offer you protection if the equipment should malfunction electrically. If your electric tool states that it’s doubly insulated on the manufacturer’s tag, this means there is insulation on the inside of the tool to protect you from shock. This type of tool will only have a two-prong plug. If the tool doesn’t state that it is doubly insulated, then you must have a third prong on the plug. This third prong, or ground prong, plugs your tool into ground or earth so that in the event of a malfunction, the electricity will go through this ground prong to earth and bypass your body. If the prong is broken off, you have no protection and all the electricity will go through your body.
Do not misuse extension cords
Extension cords can do quite a bit of damage if they are misused. No extension cord can be kinked, tied in a knot, crushed, cut, or bent and still insulate the current safely. Any cord that is misused may cause a short circuit, fire or even electrical shock. Don’t use extension cords in areas that receive a lot of traffic because not only will it cause someone to trip, but constant traffic will wear out the insulating rubber cover. If you have no choice and must use cords in high traffic areas, make sure the cords are taped securely to the flooring or are hanging high overhead. Extension cords are to be used temporarily and never as a permanent source of power to equipment.
Practice good housekeeping
Electrical safety also involves ensuring that you can get to the main power source as quickly as possible without climbing over obstructions in the event of an emergency. Keep the aisles and walkways clean and clear, and make sure all flammable gases or chemicals are stored away from any electric tool that will be operated. Many electric tools produce sparks, which could ignite the flammable liquid’s fumes and cause extensive damage.