Every office and workplace operates on electricity, yet electrical safety is often overlooked, resulting in potential electrocution, fires, and explosions, leading to serious falls, injuries, and even deaths. Electrical safety refers to maintaining and handling electric equipment with care to avoid workplace hazards. To properly identify and proactively control any electricity-related risks, the company should provide adequate training and information to employees and staff members. Doing so will help the organization maintain staff safety and save thousands of dollars in damage control and lawsuits.
Common electrical hazards at the workplace generally include:
- Incorrect electrical installation
- Poorly maintained electrical wiring
- Loose or faulty wiring
- Overheated or overloaded outlets
- Use of flexible extension cords and leads
- Improper use of replacement fuses
- Handling electric equipment with wet hands or using it near a water source
Workers can avoid all these hazards with proper electrical safety training. Here are the top 20 tips that workplaces should consider to ensure maximum employee safety.
- Prevent electrical equipment from coming in contact with moisture. Facilities should store water and all other liquids at a minimum of five feet away from any electrical devices, circuits, or wiring. In addition, the facility should install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) to prevent electrical hazards such as electrocution, fires, overheating, and bad wire insulation.
- It is critical to practice safe unplugging when disconnecting electric devices. Make sure to gently pull them by the plug rather than aggressively tugging at the cord, as doing so can damage the cable and lead to electrocution.
- Properly install and clean electric cords. Besides the electrical equipment, paying close attention to the proper installation of electric cords is also vital. These cords should not be tangled up but placed neatly to avoid a sudden explosion in case of a spark.
- Install physical barriers for maximum employee protection. These include keeping cabinet doors on electrical panels shut and fixing any holes in the panels where a worker could encounter exposed wires. In the absence of proper cabinets, companies should put adequate shields, insulating materials, and barriers into place. Signs should also be placed to give ample warning to employees, and the area in front of the electrical panel should always be free of any blockages.
- Always use the correct size fuse. Using a fuse bigger than the original one can cause a surge of current to flow in the wires which can cause an explosion, start a fire, or severely damage equipment.
- If there is unusually warm or hot wiring or outlets, that could be a warning sign for an electrical hazard. Detach any extensions or cords from the outlets, and do not use them until you call an expert to fix the problem.
- Place halogen lights far away from combustible materials like curtains or clothes. This is because halogen lamps can quickly overheat and potentially cause fires.
- Ensure that electrical wires are not overloaded and avoid plugging two extension cords together.
- Pay close attention to all your electrical equipment and be aware of danger warning signs. Unusual heating up, sparks, smoke, and strange noises coming from the electrical equipment could mean that a hazard is imminent. Immediately recognize the signs, unplug the equipment, and call a professional without further delay.
- Keep all electrical equipment properly ventilated to avoid overheating and fire hazards. Never put a cover on them.
- If you perform a quick check of the electrical equipment in your workplace, avoid wearing synthetic or polyester clothes since they are not fire-resistant. In case of a spark or a small fire, they can melt and cause serious burns on your skin.
- Only use electrical wiring and equipment authorized by a national testing lab.
- If you ever feel a slight tingle when using any electric device, immediately disconnect it and have it checked out. Another safety tip to remember is to never use both hands when examining a faulty piece of equipment. Always keep one hand away from any device that could conduct the electric current. Using both hands can form a "loop," which makes it easier for the current to travel through your chest and can cause serious injury.
- Install voltage regulators and circuit breakers as they help with early detection of electrical problems. Always use a surge protector to disconnect the workplace's electric supply when faced with an electrical emergency. A voltage regulator can help prevent equipment damage over time during fluctuations in a power surge.
- Never operate any electrical equipment in the presence of conductive or flammable materials, for instance, moisture from condensation, dust particles, gases, etc.
- Never use portable ladders made from a conductive material; make sure to wear safety gloves, electrically safe clothing, and insulated shoe soles. Electricity can easily travel through conductors and cause life-threatening electrocution.
- Avoid wearing ties or loose clothing when working around faulty electric equipment, as it can catch fire. Also, ensure that your shirt is tucked in and no part of the body is exposed. Roll down sleeves and properly cover hair.
- Always opt for low-voltage options whenever possible to avoid the risk of overloading circuits.
- Never go near or try to fix exposed, frayed, or damaged wiring. Get them replaced by a professional without delay.
- Lastly, never try to DIY problems related to electricity, no matter how simple they seem. Always call in a professional at the first sign of a malfunction. This can potentially save lives and thousands of dollars-worth of damage.
Call MTA for Help
Call MTA Electrical Engineers for professional assistance to ensure that your workplace safety standards are up to date. With a wide variety of electrical engineering services in California, such as electrical system tests, short circuit analysis, and arc flash studies, we can help you follow workplace safety protocols easily and efficiently. Contact us today for more information, and our electrical engineers will be more than happy to help you with your questions and concerns.