Prepare for this meeting by inspecting your work area, looking for potential electrical hazards and the measures your facility uses to guard against them.
More than five of every 20 workers who die on the job are killed as a result of electrical accidents. As with any type of accident, many of these might have been prevented with a little knowledge.
How Electricity Works
Electricity travels through cables or wires. These wires are generally made of metal, which conducts electricity, so they are called conductors. The wires are wrapped in plastic or rubber to keep the electricity contained. These materials are insulators.
Electrical equipment must be grounded. This simply means that it is connected to the ground through some type of conductor (such as a circuit box).
Electrical current refers to the flow of electricity through a conductor. It is measured in amps and can be thought of as measuring water in gallons per minute. Voltage is a measure of the pressure driving electrical current through a conductor.
If a wire is not properly insulated or if you make contact with live electricity, the current will go through you. Depending on where the current enters your body and how long it is there, it could kill you. The chances of shock or electrocution are multiplied when water is involved. Water can make your body act as a conductor. So working with electricity with wet hands - or even sweaty hands - can cause a major accident.
Knowing these basics doesn't make you qualified to correct electrical problems, but it should help you recognize the hazards.
Some things you should be on the look out for are:
- Wires running across traffic areas
- Frayed, worn, or damaged insulation
- Equipment running near flammables or explosives
- Plugs that don't match their outlets
- Tools that smell hot, smoke or spark
- Equipment that causes a shock when plugged in
- To minimize electrical hazards
- Always follow lockout/tagout procedures (Discuss your facility's procedures)
- Use PPE when appropriate (Discuss your facility's requirements)
- Always follow manufacturer's instructions
- Make sure any electrical tools you use are clean. Check for dust or grease build-up.
- Make sure the plugs you use match the outlets
- Do not operate electrical equipment with wet hands
- Take extra care when working near flammables
- Respect locks and tags of co-workers
- Never use any equipment that is defective.
It's pretty clear that we'd be in trouble if we had to avoid electricity. However, we can avoid electrical hazards. Please respect the power of electricity and follow the guidelines we've discussed to keep yourself and your co-workers safe
Have a safe day!