Electrical Safety Comes From Recognizing Hazards
Electricity is necessary in today's workplace. Electricity powers and produces toda's products and inventory. Because of this fact, electricity is everywhere, and to some has become a commonplace item. Not a commonplace convenience to access and use of electricity, but to some "Electricity" itself has become commonplace. Industrial electricians, maintenance personnel, and in some cases even equipment operators and supervisors have allowed the present electricity to be common.
One of the greatest ways to avoid electrical injuries such as shock, or arc flash, is to recognize electricity as a hazard. There are 1,000 fatalities each year from electrocution, as well as 5 to 10 Arc Flash Incidents that send personnel to hospitals each day in the U.S. Many of these injuries could have been avoided had the worker come to the realization that electricity is not commonplace, and that it is dangerous.
The first step to Electrical Safety, for most, is recognizing the inherent dangers of electricity. By understanding and recognizing electricity as a hazard, workers are more prone to take measures to protect themselves as well as others.
Electrical Safety is Knowing Your Limitations
The electrical field can be extremely dangerous based upon the inherent dangers of electricity. A thorough knowledge of electrical safety and technical skill is a great way to stay safe when working on or near electrical circuits and equipment. A worker should always keep this in mind, and never exceed the limits of his or her knowledge. Too often people try to perform tasks that they are not qualified for, and have not been given authorization to perform.
Staying within the boundaries of your personal experience and knowledge will help to keep you and other personnel safe from electrical hazards in the workplace. Understanding that the dangers of arc flash can cause severe burns, hearing damage, blind spots, and even death should be considered.
Knowing when to call in the professionals will help to prevent injury!
Electrical Safety Provides Proper Equipment Maintenance
Most electrical issues do not arise instantaneously. There are times when this does happen, mainly when a worker has a mishap such as dropping a tool, or improperly installing a component. The vast majority of electrical issues occur over time. Neglect seems to be the biggest culprit. The phrase "If its not broke don't fix it" typically applies to electrical equipment in today's facilities. Normal use and everyday stresses can deplete an electrical system of the designed safety mechanisms that were introduced at the time of installation. Cable insulation can deplete over time, breakers begin to lose their functionality, safety switches and control mechanisms fail to perform their lockout and isolation tasks.
All of the issues that can arise over time can be remedied by regular inspection and maintenance of electrical components. This regular inspection and maintenance highlights repair needs before imminent failure takes place. This is especially true with all mechanical connections such as cable lugs and circuit breakers. Identifying these problems far in advance prevents equipment loss due to failure, production loss, and most importantly, personnel injury.
Electrical equipment maintenance in accordance to manufacturer's recommendations and other industry standards, should be an integral part of every facility safety program.
Electrical Safety Involves Communication
Communication comes in many forms. When it comes to electrical safety, understanding the forms of communication and putting them to proper use, is critical. Verbal, audible, and visual are the three main forms of communicating for electrical work to be performed safely.
Verbal - Verbal communication starts before any task is ever underway and continues all the way until that task has been completed. Asking the right questions at the right time, as well as communicating your personal comfort level with the task, is critical.
Audible - Not only asking the right questions, but listening to the answers and direction given, both before and during the work task, help to minimize the risk for incidents to take place. Not only listening to your co-workers, but also listening to the electrical equipment itself, a trained electrical worker can in some cases hear an impending danger before it takes place!
Visual - This form of communication is critical. Understanding the dangers based upon equipment labeling and marking can be the difference between life and death. Headers such as "WARNING", "CAUTION" and "DANGER" catch a worker's attention and point out pertinent information regarding the hazards that are present.