Wednesday, 17 July 2024

Electrical Safety

Electricity can kill or severely injure people and cause damage to property. However, you can take simple precautions when working with or near electricity and electrical equipment to significantly reduce the risk of injury to you, your workers and others around you.

What are the hazards?

The main hazards of working with electricity are:

  • Electrocution (death due to severe electrical shock) and burns from contact with live parts
  • Electrical shocks due to improper grounding,
  • Inadequate wiring
  • Damaged insulation
  • Wet conditions
  • Damaged tools and equipment
  • Injury due to exposing to arcing and fire from faulty electrical equipment or installation
  • Explosion caused by unsuitable electrical apparatus or static electricity igniting flammable vapours or dusts, for example in a spray paint booth

Summary of precautions to be taken for electrical hazards at work place

  • Always use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as (a) hardhats, (b) rubber or insulating gloves and (d) insulating clothing. NEVER use damaged PPE.
  • Ensure that workers know how to use the electrical equipment safely
  • Make sure enough sockets are available. Check that socket outlets are not overloaded by using unfused adaptors as this can cause fires
  • Ensure there are no trailing cables that can cause people to trip or fall
  • Switch off and unplug appliances before cleaning or adjusting them
  • Ensure everyone looks for electrical wires, cables or equipment near where they are going to work and check for signs warning of dangers from electricity, or any other hazard. Checks should be made around the job, and remember that electrical cables may be within walls, floors and ceilings.
  • Make sure anyone working with electricity has sufficient skills, knowledge and experience to do so. Incorrectly wiring a plug can be dangerous and lead to fatal accidents or fires
  • Stop using equipment immediately if it appears to be faulty – have it checked by a competent person
  • Ensure any electrical equipment brought to work by employees, or any hired or borrowed, is suitable for use before using it and remains suitable by being maintained as necessary
  • Consider using a residual current device (RCD) between the electrical supply and the equipment, especially when working outdoors, or within a wet or confined place (see HSE's electrical safety at work site)

Overhead electric lines

  • Be aware of the dangers of working near or underneath overhead power lines. Electricity can flash over from them, even though machinery or equipment may not touch them
  • Don’t work under them when equipment (eg ladders, a crane jib, a tipper-lorry body or a scaffold pole) could come within a minimum of six metres of a power line without getting advice. Speak to the line owner, eg the electricity company, railway company or tram operator, before any work begins

Underground cables

  • Always assume cables will be present when digging in the premises, pavement and/or near buildings
  • Consult local electrical / maintenance engineer to identify where cables are located