Electrical Hazard Awareness

Electricity is energy we depend on for our lives and for work.  When electrical systems are installed and maintained properly, they are controlled effectively.

Question: When we are at work, which has the largest exposure to electrical hazards?

Answer: The workers who take electricity for granted and may not have an understanding of the hazards that can be produced.

Therefore, the non-electrical worker has the largest exposure to electrical hazards.  OSHA requires that employers provide training to both electrical workers and non-electrical workers who can be exposed to electrical hazards. According to NIOSH, around 500 worker deaths annually make electrocution the fifth leading cause of workplace fatality (7% of all workplace fatalities).

What some consider simple jobs can have a serious exposure to electrical hazards.  Here are some examples:

  • Penetrating drywall covered walls and ceilings
  • Working in suspended ceiling areas
  • Working around abandoned circuits that may still be energized
  • Cutting or boring into concrete

A Job Safety Analysis (JSA) is a good method to identify all hazards associated with the work.  The three basic things to ask are:

  • What is the hazard?
  • What is the danger?
  • What can we do to control it?

Besides the activities associated with the work as above, tools and equipment also need attention.  Employees learn about workplace safety in training classes, but they practice safety based on the support they receive from management.  If your workplace has damaged cords, outlets, panels and conduit, workers may come to believe that they are expected to work with unsafe equipment.  With constant reinforcement of safe work practices, electrical safety will become part of your company’s culture.  Be sure to discuss safe procedures with other workers and to either correct or report any unsafe conditions or behaviors.

Don’t look the other way if you see a problem.  You might be the one to save another worker’s life.

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