For any workplace, controlling potential electrical hazards is not always enough to ensure a safe working environment. Employees still have to follow some safety rules to prevent the risk of accidents resulting from electrical hazards. The same holds if you are working on electrical circuits or with electrical equipment and tools.
One important note to always remember is that all electrical systems can cause harm, especially since the human body is a natural conductor of electricity and hence is vulnerable to electrical shocks and burns. Electrical injuries include thermal burns that can damage both internal tissues and external skin, and what’s worse is that the lungs and heart can also collapse. Avoiding direct contact with energized conductors or circuit parts is the most common way to keep safe from electrical hazards. However, there are more things that everyone should be aware of because, after all, working with electricity is a serious business that should not be taken lightly.
1. Avoid Water and Wet Areas When Working with Electricity
When repairing any electrical equipment, it is vital to maintain both your hands and the area dry. Working with electricity while you have wet hands is also dangerous since water increases the chances of electrocution. It is also important to cover all exposed energized parts and unguarded electrical equipment that pose electrical hazards. These parts always carry warning signs like “Shock Risk” so there would be no problem identifying them. In case you have wet or sweaty palms, make sure that you wipe your hands dry and wear a pair of dry gloves.
2. Never Touch an Electrocuted Person
This safety tip is something that many people don’t know yet. While it is a natural reaction for anyone to assist an electrocuted person, it is not advisable. Remember that the body is a conductor, and touching an electrocuted person can transfer the current into your body, putting both of you in trouble.
When you encounter an electrocuted person, the first thing you have to do is turn off the primary power source. Afterwards, call 911 for emergency assistance. It would be best if you can perform CPR. Once you’re sure that there is no more danger of electrocution for both of you, you can begin working with CPR while waiting for the ambulance to come. Another thing to note, when you can’t turn off the power source, is to push the person away from the contact using non-conducting material such as plastic or wood.
3. Always Wear Proper Equipment
When working with electrical equipment, never forget to remove rings or metal watchbands. Avoid using metallic pencils or rulers as well. Because this rule is very straightforward, it can be very easy to forget, especially when pointing at some electrical parts using a metallic pencil. Moreover, when handling plugged-in equipment, ensure that your hands are dry and wear non-conductive gloves, protective clothes, and shoes that have insulated soles when possible.
Some standard personal protection equipment you have to wear include goggles, insulated gloves, hoods, blankets, sleeves, line hose, and non-conductive hard hats. Also, the gear should undergo inspection before each use, just like your electrical tools. If the gear is no longer serviceable, don’t use it anymore and be sure to discard instead.
4. Know the Electrical Code in the Area
Electrical codes are essential, especially if you’re undergoing electrician training. For instance, if you’re taking electrician training in Canada, you have to spend time learning about the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC). Why should you know the electrical code? It is because electrical codes are in place to protect electrical workers and provide more comfortable and safer electrical installations and equipment. To always be safe from electrical hazards, know the code, stay on top of new rules, and best practices for installation, wiring, and maintenance.
5. Regularly Inspect and Maintain Your Electrical Tools and Equipment
Inspection of tools before use should be a routine. As soon as a tool needs repair, immediately stop using the same to avoid getting electrocuted from frayed cords, exposed wires, and loose or missing prongs. Moreover, always be wary of the insulation covering extension cords because they are especially vulnerable to damage. When it comes to the body casings of tools, faulty trigger locks, and damaged switches, you have to keep an eye out if you want to avoid the mistake of using a damaged instrument.
It is also essential to invest in high maintenance equipment, especially for commercial buildings. One way to keep electrical wirings and systems away from direct contact with people is to install 3-hour fire-rated access doors. These doors are also perfect for providing access to critical building areas such as electrical and plumbing inspection maintenance.
6. Install GFCIs in Damp or Wet Areas
Working around water has a higher risk of electric shock. For this kind of Area, remember to install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) before you start any work. Another useful tip is to ensure that all tools and cords are grounded and plugged into a GFCI protected receptacle, especially in wet conditions. Having GFCIs will help in interrupting the circuit before it can electrocute anyone and do serious harm.
7. Always Follow the Proper Lockout or Tagout Procedures
This tip is the very first thing to do when beginning an inspection or a repair job– turn off the current at the switch box and ensure to padlock the switch in its off position. The same also applies to any equipment or machines that you are repairing. A lockout and tag training is essential for ensuring that the equipment is de-energized before doing any repairs. It is to minimize the opportunity for shock and electrocution.
8. Find the Right Ladder
There are typically three kinds of ladders– aluminum, wood, fiberglass. Wood and fiberglass ladders are perfect for electricians since they don’t conduct electricity. If you prefer a more reliable choice, fiberglass is ideal since wood may rot over time, particularly when often used in damp or wet places. Although the fiberglass ladder is a more expensive choice, it can provide long life and may save yours in the process.
9. Stay Away From Power Lines
Because power lines are often present around construction sites, electricians must always be wary of the same. Power lines pose a serious threat not only to electricians but also to other tradespeople. There are already many accidents in construction sites and electrical hazards because power lines and metal ladders are some of the causes. Although the line may look safe, keep in mind that the slightest touch can send thousands of volts of electricity through a human body. Familiarizing oneself with the local power line rules is essential to avoid injury or death in the worst cases. Moreover, always ask about the location of power lines before you start digging.
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