Electrical safety in the workplace

Electrical safety should be treated as a priority in every workplace. Electricity is a powerful force which can seriously injure and in the worst cases, be fatal. Here are some common electrical hazards in the workplace and safety tips that can help avoid accidents:

• Be vigilant about power line locations if you are doing work outdoors, operating machinery, driving a truck that has hydraulic beds or lifts (dump truck), or arms/extensions (garbage truck, concrete truck), to name a few, and always use a spotter. Contact with a power line can kill! If your truck, tractor or equipment does come in contact with a line while you are inside it, DO NOT get out. Call 9-1-1 and wait for the power to be de-energized so you can safely exit.

• Working with portable power tools presents inherent electrical risks. Defective tools, improper connections or misuse of tools greatly increases a worker’s chance of electrical injury. Never carry a tool by the cord or yank the cord to disconnect it from the receptacle. Keep cords away from heat, oil and sharp edges and disconnect them when not in use. Use gloves and appropriate safety footwear when using electric tools. Store electric tools in a dry place when not in use and do not use them in damp or wet locations unless they’re approved for that purpose.

• Office workers can also be exposed to electrical hazards. Ungrounded equipment, overloaded circuits, defective or damaged power or extension cords, poor placement of extension cords, space heaters and   exposed live parts are just a few hazards that can be found in the workplace.

• Be careful when working around water. Water and electricity don’t mix and it greatly increases the chance of shock. Keep all electrical equipment away from standing water or damp conditions (indoors or outdoors) and do not operate equipment with wet hands. Make sure any outlet that is near a water source (and all outdoor outlets) are GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) protected.

Accidents unfortunately do occur, and they can have deadly and tragic consequences that extend far beyond the job site. A climate of safety awareness and knowledge must be created in the workplace in order to help prevent misfortunes.