You’re in for a Shock without Electrical Safety in the Workplace



October 19, 2021

Electricity enables us to work in the first place, powering our homes and businesses so that we can keep connected. It powers our computers, our life-saving medical devices, our air conditioners, and our refrigerators as well as many other appliances, and when there is a power failure, without a generator, all activity comes to a standstill.

While electricity is an essential part of our lives, it has also killed and injured many people, started fires and caused major damage to property. An electrical current passing through your body can cause electric shock, and this can result in burns, muscle damage as well as nervous system effects such as fibrillation. The heart can be damaged also because the organ is in the path of the most common routes that electricity takes. All systems, equipment and circuits have to be grounded to protect people from shock and injury.

Electricity is All Around Us

Look around your workspace – there is electricity all around us, and many times computers, monitors, radios, printers, heaters, lighting and other electronics are all working simultaneously in one small office and off one socket. Improper wiring is a major fire hazard with an overloaded circuit. Have an expert install additional outlets if your office has reached the maximum the outlet can take.

While staff need to make these everyday inspections themselves, a competent person, with suitable training and knowledge and with a successfully completed electrical apprenticeship needs to routinely check electrical equipment and make sure that there are enough sockets are available in the workplace so that the current ones are not overloaded. All electrical equipment, installation, testing, modification and repair work needs to be done by a qualified and authorised electrical expert.

Professional Electrical Inspections

Supervisors responsible for the environmental health and safety in the workplace are responsible for ensuring regular electrical inspections are conducted to ensure electricity complies with safety standards. These professionals will review the electricity regularly and have it updated where necessary, and arrange for basic electrical safety training for those who work closely with electricity. Certainly only employees that are fully qualified will be allowed to work on any live electrical parts that are 50 V or higher.

 The voltage of the electricity in regular businesses has enough power to cause death by electrocution. Even changing a light bulb for a regular employee without training and without unplugging the lamp can be hazardous because you can come into contact with the ‘live’ part of the socket which could kill a person.

  • Every person in the workplace, should conduct a few minor inspections each day to prevent accidents around electricity in the workplace –
  • Inspect your cord- and plug-connected equipment and extension cords for damage or wear
  • Unusually hot outlets can indicate unsafe wiring conditions
  • Ensue extension cords are taped to walls out of the way. Avoid staples as these can damage the cords and cause shock- and fire hazards
  • Only use extension cords rated for the level of wattage you are using
  • Place halogen lights, which can become very hot, away from combustible materials such as curtains or wooden blinds
  • Always use the correct size fuse. Too large and it can increase currents in the wiring and this can start a fire
  • Risk of electric shock is greater in areas where it is wet. Rather install ground fault circuit interrupters as they will interrupt the electrical circuit before a current can cause death or injury
  • Every staff member needs to know where the panel and circuit breakers are located
  • Never use outlets or cords with exposed wiring
  • Every staff member must make sure that electrical installations- and equipment is suitable for its intended use. Always use equipment according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Staff must switch off and unplug all appliances before cleaning them or inspecting them

Optimise Electrical Safety in the Workplace

In the workplace, management needs to be constantly looking at procedures which enhance the well-being of the workforce. Injuries and even fatalities can occur in different scenarios.

Staying safe in the workplace is far easier when you understand the risks and how you can avoid them. Electrical safety in the workplace is there to take care of all the workers when using electricity. Lack of maintenance on electrical equipment, contact with overhead cables and live electrical equipment can result in electrocution and it is up to every manager or supervisor to optimise electrical safety in the workplace. Ensure first-aid and fire safety training for preventative purposes and ensure that adequate measures are taken to reduce risk so that staff aren’t caught unaware and off-guard.

Since we are on the topic of safety in the workplace, check out my post on wireless fire alarm systems and my post on arc flash studies.

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