Electrical Safety in the Workplace: Protect Your Workers from Hazards

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If your workers deal with electricity on the job, they could be at risk for an injury or worse every day. They need to know those risks. And it’s important to ensure that workers understand how to work safely with or near electricity, and that they understand the risks involved. The main types of electrical injuries they can suffer include electrocution, electric shock, burns and falls.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers the following tips for staying safe when working with or near electricity:

  • Inspect portable cord-and-plug connected equipment, extension cords, power bars, and electrical fittings for damage or wear before each use. Repair or replace damaged equipment immediately.
  • Always tape extension cords to walls or floors when necessary. Nails and staples can damage extension cords, causing fire and shock hazards.
  • Use extension cords or equipment that is rated for the level of amperage or wattage that you are using.
  • Always use the correct size fuse. Replacing a fuse with one of a larger size can cause excessive currents in the wiring and possibly start a fire.
  • Be aware that unusually warm or hot outlets may be a sign that unsafe wiring conditions exist. Unplug any cords or extension cords to these outlets and do not use until a qualified electrician has checked the wiring.
  • Always use ladders made with non-conductive side rails when working with or near electricity or power lines.
  • Place halogen lights away from combustible materials, such as cloths or curtains.
  • Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) to interrupt an electrical circuit before a current sufficient to cause death or serious injury occurs.
  • Use a portable in-line Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) if you’re not certain that the receptacle you’re plugging an extension cord into is GFCI protected.
  • Make sure that exposed receptacle boxes are made of non-conductive materials.
  • Know where the panel and circuit breakers are located in case of an emergency.
  • Label all circuit breakers and fuse boxes clearly.
  • Don’t use outlets or cords with exposed wiring or portable cord-and-plug connected power tools with the guards removed.
  • Don’t block access to panels and circuit breakers or fuse boxes and don’t touch a person or electrical apparatus in the event of an electrical accident.

CCOHS has additional electrical safety tips, including those related to working with power tools and power cords here.

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