Why is a sound understanding of an electrical safety procedure so important?
Safety is the number one priority in any job, but when you are dealing with electricity, the issue becomes even more serious.
No matter how much training an industrial electrician has received or how much the employer tries to safeguard his workers, the responsibility ultimately falls on the one working directly with electricity. Common sense and following the proper safety protocols goes a long way towards preventing serious accidents.
Know the Hazards
Electrical hazards have always been recognized, yet serious injuries, death and property damage still occurs daily. In fact, the majority of all highly-trained electricians have been shocked or injured on the job, some resulting in irreparable disabilities or death.
Even the simplest electrical system can become dangerous, especially when the proper electrical safety procedure is not followed. 100-200mA (which is less than 1A!) gives a painful shock, causing ventricular fibrillation of the heart, and usually results in death.
Most accidents happen when unsafe practices are employed, equipment is used improperly or the equipment is faulty. Following procedures and rules greatly reduces electrical hazards.
Electricity Safety Guidelines
Know where electric panels and emergency disconnect switches are located, and never allow these panels and switches to be blocked. They should be readily accessible and clearly marked to indicate what equipment or power source they control. There should be no less than three feet of clearance around all electrical panels.
Electrical safety: lock out equipment before entering
Never overload your circuits. Of course, there should be circuit breakers in place, but why take the chance? An overloaded circuit can cause damage to electrical equipment and conductors to overheat, which degrades insulation.
Inspect all electrical equipment before you use them to make sure cords are not frayed, worn, twisted, abraded or corroded, and that plugs are in good condition. Also check for exposed wires and damaged or missing ground pins.
Ensure electrical outlets have the proper grounding connection, as well. Industrial electrical equipment should have three-pronged plugs, special ground plugs, or be double-insulated.
Extension cords are for temporary use only. When you must use an extension cord, do it safely. Never drape the cord overhead, run it through doors or across corridors. Never tie your cord in knots or attach it to a wall.
Power strips are not allowed. According to OSHA regulations, the use of multi-outlet power strips on a work site is in violation of electrical safety procedure.
In the event something does go wrong and an electrical fire breaks out, pull the nearest fire alarm and call 911 right away. Never use water on an electrical fire.
The appropriate fire extinguisher should be close at hand and it should be labeled ‘C’ or ‘ABC.’ If you can safely reach the main power source, shut it down.
In Case of Shock
If the accident involves electric shock, the first priority is to remove the victim from the source, but they must be removed using safe methods to prevent shock to their rescuer.
A good insulator must be used when trying to remove victim, such as dry loose clothing or a non-metallic belt. Call 911 so the fire department can evaluate the situation and give emergency care to the victim. Again, if you can safely shut down the power source, do so.
Learn proper electrical safety procedure and you can have a long and happy career.