Written by Steve Stephenson
Electricity powers a large number of the modern conveniences we enjoy and, to make this possible, this powerful and potentially dangerous resource is present all around us. Electrical power runs overhead and underground, inside walls, beneath the floor and under our feet. In industrial settings where greater amounts or more raw sources of electrical energy may be utilized, the risk for injury or death due to electricity is even greater.
One of the most fundamental ways a person can reduce his risk and exposure to electrical hazards is to simply make an effort to be aware of his surroundings. Naked wires, spills, clutter near sources of electricity, and sparking or other visual evidence of electrical malfunction can all be spotted and dealt with. In a workplace where electrical safety is a priority, each worker shares the responsibility for noticing potential electrical risks and either resolving them or reporting them to someone who can. What is electrical safety? It's taking notice and being aware.
Committing workers to be vigilant in issues of electrical safety is an important first step. Actually fixing potential electrical safety problems, however, is something that often requires the assistance of certified electricians and other professionals equipped with the background and knowledge to deal with electricity safely. The process of resolving an electrical issue presents its own risks, after all!
Consider, for example, electrical maintenance on equipment that maintains a charge high enough to potentially produce an arc flash. An arc flash can produce a sudden release of electrical energy of 1.6 megajoules or greater, easily enough to vaporize, blind or otherwise maim anyone who comes into contact with it. Due to the risks posed by electrical maintenance, it is important to remember to call in the pros who have the skills to anticipate and prepare against electrical catastrophes such as this. What is electrical safety? It's getting professional input on complex and dangerous electrical problems.
Rarely does an electrical safety hazard present itself overnight. Rather, neglect or wear and tear over a period of time on electrical equipment weakens the protections installed initially and makes electrical mishaps much more likely.
To guard against the inevitable risks created by routine use of electrical equipment, the old and almost cliché safety adage rings true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Regular inspection of electrical systems and equipment can determine maintenance and repair needs in advance of electrical safety meltdowns. Such maintenance is sometimes even provided as part of the equipment warranty, so getting a qualified status update on the condition of electrical equipment is a doable and highly necessary action. What is electrical safety? It's staying on top of equipment and facility maintenance.
Visual communication can play an important role in helping remind those who interact with electrical equipment of any possible dangers. Bold headers such "WARNING", "CAUTION" and "DANGER" in bright colors like orange, yellow and red catch the eye and remind personnel to be on their guard.
Be sure to create labels and signs on materials that are engineered to stand up to taxing environmental exposure so that their important messages remain clearly visible over time. What is electrical safety? It's clearly communicating electrical risks via signage and labeling.
Ultimately, no control or precaution will prove as effective as the discerning human eye in protecting workers against electrical hazards. That is why it is crucial to train the workforce to recognize and report electrical hazards, before they become electrical accidents.
Also critical is to train workers how to act in the event that such a breach in electrical safety does occur. Do workers have access to and make use of personal protective equipment when using electrical equipment? Are evacuation routes posted and regularly rehearsed to reduce panic and injury in the event of an electrical fire or explosion? Are schedules arranged to ensure that there is always an individual with necessary first aid training on hand should a worker sustain an electrical injury? This type of thinking ahead is key to implementing solid electrical safety practices in the workplace. What is electrical safety? It's effectively training workers to respond in the safest way possible to dangerous situations.