Workplace safety is paramount in any industry, however, some workplaces harbour more serious health and safety risks than others. The electrical industry is one of many industries where safety hazards are rife, with electrical accidents often leading to life threatening injuries. Shocks and burns can occur as workers are dealing with electrical machinery, cables, and other hazards day to day. With that in mind, here are 10 tips to encourage safety when working in environments with electrical hazards.
- Ensure you complete a risk assessment
A risk assessment should be completed on site before any workers enter the premises to identify the risks that are present. The risk assessment will highlight all risks to workers and visitors as well as the severity of the injury that could be caused and how to prevent harm. Risk assessments take into consideration the type of electrical equipment used, how it is used and the environment that it is used in.
- Complete the lockout tagout procedure
For all equipment, lockout tagout is a key procedure that ensures the safety of fellow workers when a machine is being turned off and left alone or having maintenance repairs performed upon it. Lockout tagout ensures that re-energisation of a machine does not occur which could cause potential harm to workers in proximity. Equipment that is not correctly locked out can also cause electrical shocks and burns, so performing the lockout procedure is key for electrical safety. A formal lockout/tagout programme should be in place where industrial machinery is used, to ensure that employees are always working in a safe environment. All workers who use machinery should be thoroughly trained on the lockout tagout programme before beginning work, as well as being provided with the correct lock out tag out equipment from Reece Safety. This procedure has since developed into lockout tagout tryout (LOTOTO), with emphasis on trying to restart the equipment which checks that the lockout tagout procedure has been successful.
- Do not distract other workers
Electrical work can be dangerous, even when the correct procedures, training and PPE are in place. With so many dangers and hazards with electrical projects and day to day work, it is vital not to distract other workers when completing any job, as live wires, dangerous equipment, and high voltages may cause life-threatening injury.
- Do not tamper with or adjust equipment
Once a lockout tagout procedure has been performed, equipment will be safe to be left alone or have checks performed on it. This is the only time that is it safe to adjust equipment if it is need of maintenance. By tampering with someone else’s equipment or those which have not had a lockout procedure performed on it, you are at great risk of fatal injury.
- Do not overload your outlets
For any workplace it is vital to not overload any outlets, as this can cause users to experience electric shocks. In a busy and crowded working environment, it can be difficult to know when an outlet has been overloaded. Ensure that the appliances or tools plugged into the outlets do not exceed the maximum current rating stated for the extension lead. If power outlets are overloaded, this could also lead to risk of fire.
- Ensure you use safety signage
Safety signs are needed to help warn people of hazards and prohibit actions. They are very useful in preventing injury and for the benefit of workers and safety of visitors and contractors. There are four types of safety signs that should be included within your workplace’s health and safety programme: prohibition and fire (red), mandatory (blue), caution and safe condition. For electrical hazards and fire hazards, yellow ‘danger’ signs are used to identify electric shock risks, fire risks and hazards.
- Report issues or hazards immediately
It is vital that any issues, malfunctions, or environmental hazards are reported to management immediately so that safety precautions can be put in place to prevent injury. Reporting safety issues saves lives and fixes issues that could exacerbate.
- Maintain your equipment
This is essential for keeping machinery, tools, and equipment healthy for as long as possible without needing repair. Machinery and equipment should always be checked for wear and tear, with regular services and cleans being performed by qualified workers to keep them running smoothly. By checking for signs of wear as a machine is used, you are less likely to suffer any electrical issues and injury to workers without spotting the warning signs first.
- Wear the required PPE
Each electrical job requires different PPE depending on hazards, but most will require a hard hat and insulating gloves and boots. If there is a risk from an arc flash then suitably rated PPE to provide body, hands and face protection must be worn.
- Follow the rules and regulations
Each piece of equipment or machinery will have different regulations to adhere to, so ensure that you are fully trained before working on or with a piece of equipment. Do not use any equipment that you are not fully trained to operate.