An electrical shock will occur whenever the human body comes into contact with a source of voltage. Even if there isn't direct contact with the source of the electricity, a shock can occur if the electrical current travels through the air and into contact your hair or skin. The severity of the shock will depend on the voltage of the current that is present. High voltage shocks can cause burns, muscle twitching, cardiac problems, and death.
Preventing Electrical Shocks
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking the following steps in your facility can help to dramatically reduce the risk of a shock from occurring, which will help to keep your employees safe and your facility protected.
The important thing is to make sure everyone is well-aware of the hazards that electricity can cause. Many people think of electrical shocks as a minor inconvenience, but when dealing with high voltage equipment, these shocks can be deadly.
Providing electrical safety training to your employees is a proven way to minimize the risks of shock, fire, arc flashes, and other dangers. This type of training can cover general information about the hazards of electricity, how to work with it, and specific information about how your facility is to operate.
The problem can be that after the training is provided, many people will begin to forget what they are taught if it isn't something that they are exposed to on a regular basis. With this in mind, facilities need to make sure to offer this type of training on a regular basis to keep people up to speed. This will also give opportunities to update people with new information as it changes.
A good starting point for electrical safety training is to provide an annual refresher course for employees. This can be a formal training course where everyone has to attend, or more often, each department can put together their own electrical safety training programs. This can allow each department to complete their annual refresher training at times when it is convenient for them and will minimize any workflow disruption.
Training with Major Changes
If there are any major changes to the facility it is important to provide training to any employees who will be impacted. This would occur when there is an installation of new high-voltage equipment, if new electrical systems are installed, or if people are working in different environments. Taking the time to ensure everyone in an area is up to date with the latest systems will help them to avoid any type of electrical shock or other related injury.
While scheduled electrical safety training is important, it is also a good idea to constantly remind people of how they can stay safe while working with electrical equipment. This can be done by ensuring you have all high-voltage systems properly labeled with important information. In addition, putting up electrical safety signs that tell employees what to do around certain systems can be very helpful. This constant exposure to tips and reminders about electrical safety in the workplace can really help to improve the ability for employees to remember how to avoid injuries.
Electricity is one of the most dangerous forces of nature, yet we harness and use it every day to power homes, businesses, vehicles, and more. Whenever working with electricity, it is important to respect how dangerous it can be, and take steps to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. One of the easiest things you can do to improve safety is to learn about some of the most common hazards associated with working with electricity so that you and your team are aware.
One important thing to know about electrical systems is that they will often work, even when not properly wired. For example, if a system isn't correctly grounded, it will still work. Improper grounding may simply lead to increased risk of shock, arc flash, short circuit, and other potential dangers. Anyone working on electrical systems should be trained to assume the most potential danger rather than to assume that everything is wired correctly.
Water & Electricity
Water can conduct electricity quite well so if there is any water present, or even very high levels of humidity, it can lead to a powerful shock. This is important when working outside, in areas where condensation may be present, and especially in emergency situations where water may be sprayed into an area with electrical systems.
Ladders & Electrical Lines
When using ladders, high-lows, cherry pickers, and other equipment that goes high into the air, it is necessary to take strong precautions to avoid bumping into any electrical wires. Even simply carrying a ladder vertically can often run into these types of wires, resulting in electrocution.
Arc flashes are often very powerful and can occur without any warning. The root cause of an arc flash can vary significantly, but the result is a strong electrical current that can also lead to fires, explosions, and other dangers. Anyone who is working with an electrical system needs to be aware of the arc flash hazard, what types of things can cause an arc flash, and of course, always wear the proper personal protection equipment at all times.
These are just a few common examples of hazards associated with working with electricity. Coming up with a list of all dangers that may be present in a specific facility is a good way for a team to identify hazards, and come up with ways to avoid them.
In any workplace it is important to take proper electrical safety measures to help avoid any type of accident or injury. This is especially critical when it comes to facilities with high voltage machinery and other equipment. The following are some basic electrical safety measures that should be put in place at virtually every facility. Adding other measures based on the specific environment will help to create a safe workplace for employees, customers, and the facility itself.
Clearly Labeled Warnings
One of the first things to be done is to create and print off warning labels that can be placed on any electrical systems. These labels can include things like how much voltage is present, how far away people should stand, and much more. Custom labels can be created using an industrial label printer so they can be installed when and where they are needed.
Keep PPE Where it is Needed
Personal protection equipment, or PPE, is an essential safety measure for any facility. Whenever working near dangerous levels of electricity, employees should wear PPE to help to mitigate the risk. Placing the PPE near the location where it is needed will not only make it easier for employees to use it when necessary, but it can also work as a reminder since it will be visible near the equipment that is causing the hazardous situation.
Emergency Cutoff Systems
All high-voltage systems should have an emergency cut off button or switch located nearby. This button should immediately stop the flow of all electricity to the system and should only be used in emergencies. If someone is being electrocuted, this button needs to be pushed before anyone goes to help the victim of the electrocution, otherwise the individuals responding to the emergency could find themselves being injured as well.
Trained First Responders and Employees
Finally, all of these electrical safety measures need to be supported by well-trained emergency personnel and other employees. Teaching everyone how to respond to an emergency involving electricity will help to avoid many types of injuries and can help to keep any that do occur as minor as possible. Proper training should be given to all new employees, and then follow-up training can be provided as needed over time.
Compared to many other industries, office environments are fairly safe. There are still thousands of injuries that take place in office environments, but most of them are related to falls and other similar accidents. Just because an office is typically quite safe, however, doesn't mean that the existing hazards should be ignored. Electrical hazards are one of the most dangerous things in an office environment because electricity is used to power computers, lights, monitors, and much more. The following are some specific safety risks associated with electricity in the office.
It is quite common for people in an office to use an extension cord to bring electricity where it is needed when there isn't an existing outlet. Extension cords introduce a variety of new hazards to an area, which is why they should only be used for limited amounts of time. One example of a hazard is having someone roll their chair over the wire, which could cause damage and increase the risk of a shock. Another would be the increased risk of unsafely having the cord ripped out of the socket, which can also cause shocks and lead to fires.
Overloaded outlets are another serious risk in many office environments. On a single desk it is not uncommon to see computers, multiple monitors, radios, phone chargers, and any number of other things. When multiple desks are nearby, they may even share a power strip, which is then plugged into a single outlet. The draw on that outlet can potentially exceed the amount of current that it can safely handle. While most of the time this will simply trip a circuit breaker (either in the power strip, or in a central location), it does increase the risk of fire and shocks.
Overheated Electrical Equipment
Using electricity generates heat, which needs to be able to escape from the area. When there is insufficient ventilation, or worse, when the wires are covered up by flooring or other things, it can be quite dangerous. In addition to the risk of fire, the unsafe temperatures can damage the electrical systems, which can increase the risk of small arc flashes, sparks, and other dangerous events.
Capacitors in Computer Equipment
If you look inside a computer, a monitor, or most other types of computer equipment you will see multiple capacitors on each board. These capacitors help to ensure all the components are able to get the power that is needed in a clean and consistent way. They can also hold electricity even after the device has been unplugged, however, which can be quite dangerous. If someone doesn't take the proper precautions when working on this equipment, they are putting themselves at risk for a potentially dangerous shock.
These are just a few of the many electrical hazards that are present in office environments. Taking the proper precautions is very important for all office employees to ensure they are safe, and the equipment will operate properly long into the future.
When trying to improve the safety of a facility there are many approaches that can be taken. One option is to conduct in-depth training courses, and engage in large scale activities focused on electrical safety. While that can certainly be effective, it is also a good idea to look into smaller-scale options that are more focused on simple reminders that people can see on a day to day basis. This, especially when combined with more formal training, can help to keep electrical safety on the minds of employees at all times.
Simple Electrical Safety Tips
Many facilities will take electrical safety tips such as the ones listed below and print them off on posters to be hung up throughout the facility. However they are displayed, reminding employees of these electrical safety tips is a great way to ensure everyone is protected.
Following these tips and making sure everyone in the facility is aware of them, is an important place to begin when it comes to electrical safety in the workplace.
Workplace safety is something that every company needs to make a top priority. There are many types of hazards that exist, and in general they are all just covered under the generic topic of workplace safety. Interestingly, electrical safety is often addressed separately by many businesses. Some people wonder why electrical safety is so important, and why it gets so much attention. There are many statistics and facts that can provide some insights into what makes electrical safety stand out when it comes to the efforts that are made to improve safety.
The following are some interesting, and often unsettling, facts about electrical safety in the workplace.
Electrical Safety is Unique
As you can see from the statistics above, electrical safety a priority in the workplace is very important. In addition, hazards related to electricity are often quite different than other types of workplace dangers. Finally, electrical hazards are not something that the average person has much experience with, which is why it is critical that they are given at least basic electrical safety training so they know how to avoid accidents or injuries. While it is true that all workplace safety is important, electrical safety needs to be treated differently to ensure the safety of everyone in the facility.
There are many different electrical safety standards that need to be followed in the workplace. These standards are often developed by safety companies, governmental agencies, or others that work to find the best practices in given situations. Some of these standards are enforced by government agencies, such as OSHA, and can come with serious penalties. Others are simply best practice recommendations, and there is no enforcement measures possible. That being said, however, following them is still in the best interests of companies.
The best known name in workplace safety is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. OSHA regulates many different aspects of workplace safety, including electrical safety. Some of their most important standards are the following:
The National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, is another group that provides safety standards focused on electricity. Their most famous set of standards is called NFPA 70, and is also known by the name 'National Electrical Code.' These standards set forth safety requirements that offer a great balance of workplace safety with productivity. Their standards identify shock protection boundaries, arc flash safety, lockout-tagout systems, and more. While NFPA doesn't have any legal enforcement power, they are among the most respected agencies in the country, and are voluntarily followed by millions of companies. If a company doesn't follow the standards, they can't claim to be NFPA compliant.
Keeping Up with Changing Standards
OSHA, NFPA, and other groups are constantly working on finding newer and better ways to work with electrical systems that will keep everyone safe. As new and improved best practices are developed, the standards released by these groups are updated. All companies are responsible for keeping up with the latest changes to ensure everyone is protected.