Practice electrical safety to mitigate risks and hazards in the workplace
Published 26 Jul 2023
Electrical safety is a general practice for workers exposed to handling and maintaining electrically powered equipment. It’s a set of guidelines they follow to mitigate electrical hazards and prevent their dangerous effects in case of an incident. Failure to adhere to electrical safety can lead to accidents, near misses, or even fatalities.
In today’s technologically advanced world, electricity is a vital energy source that powers homes, offices, factories, and other industrial facilities. However, this resource can bring serious hazards—from electrical fires and burns to electrical shocks and fatalities—if not handled carefully. These dangerous incidents, in turn, can make a huge dent not only in the company’s finances but also in its reputation.
For this reason, basic electrical safety is of utmost importance in any workplace that utilizes electricity as a fundamental part of its day-to-day operations. This practice allows organizations to keep workers safe, carry out business functions smoothly, and avoid accidents.
Any workplace that utilizes or handles electricity in its daily activities must prioritize the safety of its employees and visitors. Electrical safety regulations play a pivotal role in setting the standards for a secure work environment, ensuring that organizations follow the necessary safety measures and best practices.
Be sure to refer to your local authorities for the laws and guidelines applicable to your jurisdiction and industry. To help you get started, here’s a quick overview of the electrical safety regulations from agencies around the world:
One key aspect of electrical safety is knowing and understanding the potential risks that come with using electricity. If not addressed, these hazards present significant threats to the workers and properties of the organization.
Here are 10 electrical safety hazards to keep an eye on in the workplace:
Electrical safety precautions are specific control measures implemented to remove electrical hazards and mitigate the risks of electrical accidents and injuries. Safety precautions for working with electricity depend on the worker’s job instructions and working environment.
Achieve optimal electrical safety at work by following these best practices:
Before implementing any safety measure, it’s important to understand first the electrical hazards present in the workplace. This can be done through an in-depth risk assessment.
Performing a thorough risk assessment can help organizations identify potential electrical hazards. This evaluation should cover all electrical equipment, wiring, and power sources. Once they’re determined, prioritize them based on severity and likelihood of occurrence.
Periodic inspections and maintenance are crucial to keeping electrical tools and systems in good working condition. Consistently carrying out these scheduled checks helps prevent damage, meet safety standards, optimize efficiency, and extend the lifespan of the system and equipment.
Before each use, employees must first inspect the equipment and report any problems they find. At an organizational level, it’s best to implement a routine electrical maintenance program. This way, electrical and maintenance teams can promptly address any identified issues to prevent accidents and breakdowns.
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
One of the best ways to keep employees safe from hazards associated with their work is by equipping them with specialized personal protective equipment (PPE). Electrical safety equipment is specifically designed to protect workers from general and specific electrical hazards. Most workplaces should have the following safety gear:
Safety equipment should also be used when doing specific types of electrical testing, repair work, installation, machine tasks, or maintenance, such as arc flash and customized earthing and short-circuiting, among others. And for an extra layer of safety, it helps to verify if your electrical equipment is certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
Electrical safety encompasses a wide area of general safety guidelines, such as electrical PPE and lockout/tag-out procedures, among others. Project managers, site supervisors, and safety officers can improve electrical safety onsite when they make sure that workers are adequately trained, team leaders regularly facilitate safety meetings, and teams talk about the specifics of a job (or have toolbox talks).
Listed below are a few examples of electrical safety topics organized by scope:
Knowing your limits and applying the best electrical safety practices can help reduce the risk of electrical shock and death. It’s safer to work within your scope of expertise instead of taking the risk of working beyond your capacity. If you’re not confident to do the job, don’t hesitate to call for help from an authorized person.
Proper training and awareness among employees are vital to building a safety-conscious workplace. Aside from the scheduled toolbox talks and safety meetings, it’s also important to conduct regular training sessions on electrical safety, covering the following topics:
OSHA has established electrical standards to protect workers in construction, maritime, and general industries. These OSHA electrical safety standards are as follows:
These are anchored on the existing standards of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), specifically the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) and the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E).
The frequency of electrical safety training is highly dependent on the nature of work or the level of risks associated with a certain job. It should be determined and decided upon by the employer, manager, or other people in authority. OSHA also recommends that refresher training be provided at least once every three years to ensure that employees stay up to date with the latest safety standards and practices.
Performing electrical installations or repairs yourself can be risky, as these tasks require specialized skills and knowledge to ensure safety and compliance with local regulations. For safety and legal reasons, it’s generally recommended to hire a licensed electrician for any electrical issues.
The frequency of electrical systems inspections will depend on various factors, including the type of property, its age, its usage, and if there are any electrical issues.
In most cases, a routine check every 3-5 years is recommended for most properties. And for specialized structures, here’s a simple guide on when to do electrical inspections:
Electrical safety assessments are a vital safety practice, as they aid in identifying potential hazards and strategizing on better preventive measures. Most of the time, inspectors would jot down their observations on paper and submit the form among the already existing piles of inspection reports.
SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) allows you to eliminate inefficiencies in self-inspections through mobile-powered checklists and tools. Instead of filling out paper forms for every inspection, you can utilize ready-made templates for site checks on the go. Once you’re done, the data is automatically stored in secure cloud storage, which you can access anytime as needed.
Aside from this, SafetyCulture also empowers you to:
SafetyCulture Content Team
The SafetyCulture content team is dedicated to providing high-quality, easy-to-understand information to help readers understand complex topics and improve workplace safety and quality. Our team of writers have extensive experience at producing articles for different fields such as safety, quality, health, and compliance.
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