There were 4,764 fatal and 2,200 nonfatal occupational electrical injuries in the United States in 2020, the Electrical Safety Foundation reveals. Electrical engineering is a hazardous sector with contact with overhead power lines the cause of most fatalities. Moreover, faulty electrical appliances and poor electrical installations are a fire hazard with the potential to cause widespread injury and death. Fortunately, simple yet smart precautions can minimize risk and improve safety while on the job.
Conduct a risk assessment
A comprehensive health and safety risk assessment should take into account occupational electrical risks and how to best use and maintain electrical installations and equipment. Be particularly mindful of risks in dangerous conditions, such as, wet conditions (inadequate equipment typically goes live in such conditions). Similarly, in outdoor conditions, equipment also runs the risk of getting wet, as well as carries an increased risk of sustaining damage. Additionally, you should pay particular attention to risks when working in small spaces with earthed metalwork (aka exposed conductive parts). If an electrical error occurs in this kind of situation, it’s not easy to avoid getting shocked.
After conducting a health and safety risk assessment, you should take appropriate steps to minimize risks — such as, ensuring electrical installations are safe, reducing voltage, and performing preventative maintenance. It’s also important to ensure anyone working on or with electrical equipment is qualified to do so. Safe, suitable, and properly-maintained equipment is also a must for each job. In potentially-explosive environments, for example, certified explosion-protected equipment must be used. If fatality does occur on the job, bereaved families may be entitled to a wrongful death award. Wrongful death attorneys can help families understand their legal rights and recover rightful financial compensation.
Implement safe working practices
Health and safety management should primarily be centered around safe working practices. Above all, it’s important to determine whether you’ll be performing a job dead or live. Ideally, all work should be carried out with dead equipment. Live working is typically only feasible as long as three conditions are fulfilled — otherwise, dead working is a must. Specifically, live working should only be performed if: it’s not possible or reasonable for the conductor to be dead; it’s reasonable for someone to work on or near the live conductor; and basic safety precautions (such as, PPE) are implemented.
Electrical safety should be a priority for all workers. By conducting a risk assessment, minimizing risk, and implementing safe working practices, electrical engineers can keep themselves safe and better avoid hazards while on the job.