Electrical accidents can be a life-changing experience that can cause injury, tissue damage, burns, and even death. Safe work practices should be carried out to reduce dangers and protect employees.
In this blog, we will discuss what electrical hazards are, common electrical hazards in the workplace, and how you can implement electrical safety on the job.
What Are Electrical Hazards?
An electrical hazard is a dangerous condition that can occur due to equipment failure or improper use, as well as direct contact with electrical energy.
Common Electrical Hazards
Electricity gives us the power to operate many helpful pieces of equipment, but it can be dangerous if uncontrolled. There are many safety concerns that should be considered when working closely with electricity and electrical parts. Some of the most common electrical hazards are electrical shock, burns, and fire.
Electric shock occurs when a body becomes part of an electrical current, meaning electricity is flowing through a person's body. An electric shock can happen when:
- You come into contact with the conductors in an electrical circuit.
- You touch live electrical wires or power strips.
- You provide a path between an ungrounded conductor and the ground.
- You provide a path between the ground and a conducting material that is in contact with an ungrounded conductor.
Electric shock can be dangerous and potentially fatal depending on four factors: the amount of current, length of time that the current is present, the path of the current, and frequency of the current. If the combination of these factors is just right, the shock could lead to electrocution.
The most common injuries caused by electrical shock hazards are burns. Electricity can cause anywhere from minor to severe damage. You can receive three types of burns from accidents involving electricity:
- Thermal burns. A thermal burn is surface-level tissue damage that is the result of contact with hot surfaces or overheated electrical equipment such as electrical panels, appliances, or wiring.
- Electrical burns. This type of burn is the result of electrical current flowing through tissues in your body. Since the current flows through your body, burns can be suffered internally, including muscle and bones.
- Arc or fire burns. These injuries are caused by high temperatures from electrical arcs, explosions, or fires. You endure serious injury along in addition to this burn due to the severity of the hazard.
Electrical Fire and Arc Blasts
When an electrical current is strong enough, it can create a blast effect from arcing. The blast can be incredibly dangerous, creating a blast force and increasing temperatures as high as 35,000°F. Arc blasts are also a danger because they can ignite fires.
Workers should know of the risk that electrical arcs and fires present. Injuries, health conditions, and electrocution are always possible.
How To Prevent Electrical Hazards In The Workplace
Electrical injuries can be severe and potentially life-threatening. It’s your job to implement electrical safety in your workplace to protect yourself and your employees. Here is what you can do to
1. Proper safety training
Make sure your workers are aware of the hazards associated with electricity and know how to stay safe. Teach them to avoid electrical outlets, wires, and cables, and to never touch an object that is plugged into an outlet if they don’t know what it is. You should also train them on how to deal with poor wiring and how to unplug appliances safely.
2. Inspect energized equipment and cords regularly
Electrical cords and equipment that are used frequently should be inspected on a regular basis, at least quarterly. Report any hazards present immediately for maintenance or repair. Frayed cords or damaged equipment should be repaired immediately by an electrician. Electrical work should always be left to professional electricians.
3. Maintain distance from high energy equipment and appliances
Workers should limit their exposure to high-energy electrical equipment. Less access to wiring, appliances, and equipment can control the risk posed.
4. Identify and reduce risks
You must complete a thorough risk assessment to identify any electrical safety concerns, both large and small. From extension cords that can be tripped over to live overhead power lines, outline what electrical sources may pose a risk, then take the necessary steps to reduce them.
5. Put an emergency plan in place
Prepare for the unexpected with an emergency safety plan. A plan will outline what your staff should do in the event of an accident. A typical safety plan should cover:
- What health and safety measures should be followed in the event of an injury or accident
- Who should be contacted immediately (i.e., 911, managers, etc.)
- How to protect young children first (if working closely with children)