Tag Archive for: working with electricity

Working Safely with Electricity

Electricity is a common workplace hazard but also one that can be dangerous and deadly. When improperly maintained or used, electrical equipment can cause burn or shock injuries. Anyone working around electricity must have specialized training and follow specific safety-related practices. Here are some tips for working safely with electricity. 

1. Ensure Safe Use of Electrical Equipment

All employees should properly and safely use all electrical equipment in the workplace. This means not hanging equipment by their electrical cords, pulling plugs from the wall by the cord, stapling cords to the wall, or overstretching cords. Before use, all plugs and cords should be carefully inspected. 

2. Avoid Contact with Live Currents

One of the best ways to stay safe is to keep a reasonable distance away from electrical hazards. Untrained workers should not be near or interact with any electrical currents over 50V. If a worker is in an area with electrical currents higher than this, they should maintain a safe distance.

3. De-Energize Equipment and Use Lockout/Tagout

Live, exposed electrical wires must be de-energized before work near or on them is permitted. The best way to accomplish this is through a strict lockout/tagout policy. This safeguards workers from electrical hazards while performing maintenance and service activities. 

4. Understand Generator Hazards

Generators are commonly used as an alternative power source on job sites. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a serious risk with gas and diesel generators, which should never be used in confined spaces. Also, the main circuit breaker should be turned “off” on a generator before starting to prevent energizing power lines or equipment. 

5. Use Only Approved and Non-Modified Equipment

Only approved and non-modified cords and equipment should be used in the workplace. For example, frayed extension cords or ones that are not 3-wire types are not considered durable. All equipment should be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. 

6. Install Proper Physical Barriers Around Hazards

When electrical hazards are present, physical barriers should always be installed to protect workers and innocent bystanders. For example, electrical panels should have closing front doors or shields. There should also be signs in place that warn of electrical hazards and prevent people from entering an unsafe area. 

7. Beware of Conductive Materials and Tools

Employees should always assume that any electrical lines or parts present are live unless told otherwise. Cleaning materials, like water-based cleaners and many solvents, are conductive and require extreme caution. It’s also important to keep conductive tools away from electrical equipment or parts. 

8. Watch Out for Overhead and Buried Power Lines

Overhead and buried power lines are particularly hazardous because they carry very high voltage levels. The main risk is fatal electrocution, followed by falls, burns, and other injuries. Ensure you know where these lines are located before working around them. 

9. Exercise Caution with Flammable Materials

Electricity can lead to a fire or explosion if it comes into contact with flammable gases, vapors, or dust. If you have these types of materials in your workplace, understand how they must be used, stored, and disposed of so they don’t create a safety hazard. 

10. Limit Who Can Work on Live Electrical Wires

As a general rule, if you aren’t trained to do something, err on the side of caution. According to OSHA, only qualified workers should work on live electrical wires or hazardous electrical equipment. If you notice a downed electrical wire, the safest thing to do is to notify a direct superior immediately and avoid approaching the area. 

11. Follow Your Company’s Electrical Safety Rules

Every business should have electrical safety rules that align with OSHA standards for working with electricity. If employees work with live electrical wires, they should receive proper training and have access to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a hard hat, safety glasses, insulated gloves, and proper clothing. 

12. Report Any Electrical Accidents or Injuries Promptly

If the path to electrical equipment is broken or the power supply isn’t grounded, the current could travel through the worker’s body and cause serious injury or death. If you’ve experienced an electrical injury at work, you may have the right to pursue compensation. It’s important that you report your accident to protect your rights. 

What If You’ve Been Injured Working with Electricity?

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury while working near or with electricity, it’s essential to understand that your employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace protecting you from these types of accidents. Proper training and appropriate electrical safety measures are critical parts of workplace preparedness. To learn more about protecting yourself from workplace electrical hazards and asserting your rights, contact an OSHA Injury Attorney directly.