Electrical safety hazard: Electricity can seriously injure or kill, and cause property damage. However, the employer can take simple precautions when working with electricity, or near electrical installations or equipment, to significantly reduce the risk of injury to his workers and others. This blog provides a summary of electrical hazards and precautions.
Electricity implies progress and well-being, which is why today it is difficult to imagine any of our activities, whether industrial or domestic, without the direct or indirect intervention of electrical energy. But also a risk for people and their property if the knowledge or the necessary means for its correct use are lacking.
So, we present below a series of electrical hazards and general preventive measures that are related to those electrical risks that occur most frequently in the workplace, and that can affect all the people who work in it.
Working with electricity involves risk, so we must identify the electrical hazards and the basic safety rules and apply them at all times. In this blog, we review the essential rules for this type of work.
Introduction to Electrical safety hazard
Electricity is the flow of electrons through a conductor. A Commonly used conductor is copper wire. Electricity flows in one direction around the circuit.
Voltage (V): a measure of the potential difference or driving force/electrical pressure that forces electricity through the conductor (unit: volt; symbol: V).
Current (I): A measure of the rate of flow of electricity through a conductor (unit: amps; symbol: A).
Resistance (R): A measure of how much a circuit component resists the passage of electricity (unit: ohm; symbol: Ω).
Voltage = Current * Resistance
Volts = Amps * Ohms
V = I * R
Another characteristic of electrical systems is the nature of the current flow. In our basic circuit, current flows in only one direction. This is known as direct current (DC) and is common for battery-powered electrical systems. However, the network supply in homes and workplaces flows back and forth through the circuit and is known as alternating current (AC).
The speed at which the current alternates changes back and forth is called frequency: the number of cycles per second (unit: hertz; symbol Hz).
The risks of electricity are: (OSHA)
- Electric shock.
- Fires and explosions.
An electric shock occurs when a person touches a live surface (a conductor with a potential difference other than neutral/earth) and an electric current passes through its body of it. Electric current uses the body as a conductor.
The current, therefore, will have a path through the body, from the point of contact with the living surface (where the current enters the body) to another point of contact with the ground or grounded surfaces (where the current leaves the body). In a nutshell, the human body can be thought of as replacing the light bulb component in our
The effects of current flow in the body during an electrical discharge.
|Current (mA) flowing through the body effect|
|2–10||Tingling sensations, muscle tremors, dull sensations|
A high proportion of electrical shock accidents involve portable electrical equipment. Electrical equipment must be carefully selected to ensure that it is suitable for the electrical system, the purpose and the usage environment. Various protection systems can be used for electrical equipment, such as:
- Fuses: a weak link in the circuit.
- Ground: A low-resistance path to ground for fault current.
- Double insulation: separates people from conductors using two layers of insulation.
- Residual current devices (RCD): sensitive and fast-acting trips.
- Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs): are electromechanical devices that work similarly to fuses to protect current overload equipment (i.e. provide overcurrent protection).
- A Residual Current Device (RCD): is specifically designed to protect human life in the event of an electrical shock. It does so on the basis that it is very sensitive to small current imbalances (30mA) in a circuit and is capable of breaking the circuit very quickly (40 milliseconds).
Electrical hazards can cause
The human body is a machine controlled by electrical energy. Nerves transmit vital electrical messages. These signals are used to control the muscles, breathing, heart, etc. But the energy level is very low compared to that with which we can come into accidental contact in a home or industrial electrical circuit.
The electric current circulates through the so-called electrical conductors: copper, aluminium, the earth, etc. The electric current does not circulate through the so-called electrical non-conductors: plastics, dry wood, ceramics, glass, etc.
If the human body comes into contact along the way, as it is a conductor of electrical energy due to a large amount of water and salts it contains, it can cause even more serious injuries depending on the path through which the current flows.
Is the most dangerous when it circulates between arms or between arms and opposite legs since, in these circumstances, it passes through the heart and can cause cardiac arrest and death immediately.
- Electric shocks and burns when coming into contact with live parts
- Injuries resulting from exposure to electric arcs or sparks from defective equipment or installations,
- Explosions caused by improper electrical equipment or static electricity can produce flammable vapours.
- Fall from height due to electrical shock.
Circuit breakers act in the event of contact, opening the circuit with a current signal of around 30 mA (milliamps). Ground installations exist so that in the event of an accidental electrical discharge, the current choose the easiest path to flow through it. If it is in good condition, it will offer lower resistance, avoiding its passage through the human body.
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We must recognize the risks involved, how to proceed in the face of this danger, and above all, act in time, proceeding in the way we know accidents with an electric current can be avoided.
How can you protect yourself from electrical hazards?
- It is mandatory to use dielectric shoes. These shoes isolate you from the ground, they must also be accompanied by the use of insulating gloves that protect you in the event of a spark.
- Do not carry metal objects while working with electricity. Chains, watches or rings can cause a short circuit or attract the electric arc. Metal is an excellent conductor of electricity, so in case of contact, it would produce a very dangerous discharge.
- Calculate the amperage before starting work. Use a reliable and safe electricity testing device.
- Avoid working with electricity in damp places or near water.
What are the electrical safety precautions?
In this context, a competent person is someone who has the appropriate training, skills and knowledge to perform the task at hand without injury to themselves or others. Having completed an electrical apprenticeship, with some subsequent experience, is one way of demonstrating that you have the technical skills to perform general electrical tasks.
For more specialized tasks, such as servicing high-voltage switchgear or modifying control systems, additional training and experience will likely be required.
Key Points for the Employer to Remember
- Make sure workers know how to use electrical equipment safely.
- Make sure there are enough power outlets. Check that the sockets are not overloaded by using adapters without a fuse, since, if so, they can cause a fire.
- Make sure there are no loose wires that could cause you to trip or fall.
- Make sure appliances are turned off and unplugged before cleaning or adjusting them.
- Make sure everyone examines electrical cables or equipment near where they will be working and checks for any warning signs of electrical or other hazards.
- Ensure that everyone who works with electricity has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to do so.
- Stop using the equipment immediately if it appears to be faulty, and have it checked by a competent person.
- Ensure that any electrical equipment brought to work by workers or any rented or borrowed equipment is in good working order before use.
- The employer and workers should be aware of the hazards involved in working near or below overhead power lines. Electricity can spark, even if machinery or equipment does not come into contact with it.
- No one should work under overhead power lines if there is equipment (for example, ladders, jib cranes or scaffolding structures) that can be brought within six meters of a power line without the worker needing prior instruction.
- The presence of underground cables should always be assumed when drilling holes in the street, asphalt and/or near buildings.
Electrical safety precautions during the rainy season
The rainy season represents an increase in electrical risks. One of the main dangers results from the combination of water with electricity since a cable is enough to cause considerable damage.
- Wear shoes, preferably with rubber soles, at all times to avoid contact with water.
- Stay away from metallic objects as these are conductors of electricity.
- If possible, turn off the power at the main switch panel.
- Do not use, turn off, or turn on a power tool or appliance while standing in the water.
- After the rain, do not turn the power back on until the equipment is inspected by an authorized electrician. Trying to restore power can be deadly.
- Unplug power tools and keep them in a safe place until raining over.
- Do not use power tools suspected wet during rain until checked by an electrician
How to prevent electrical hazards at home
If any kind of electrical fault occurs, it is essential to contact a specialized team in the electricity sector to safeguard the safety of the whole family and avoid any kind of problem that may arise. To maintain electrical safety in the daily life of the home, it is necessary to keep in mind the following recommendations:
- Check the correct operation of the differential switch
- Avoid multiple plug connections.
- Unplug appliances that are not being used.
- The manipulations of electrical equipment must be carried out when they are disconnected.
- When changing light bulbs, the circuit breaker must be turned off.
- Do not use products with bare cables.
- When unplugging electrical equipment, do not do it by pulling on the outlet
Electrical hazards and control measures on the construction site
So, prevention turns out to be essential to avoid all kinds of risks, providing comprehensive electrical safety in each project. For their part, the companies are the ones who grant collective protection, ensuring correct delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) to its employees, in addition, to properly training all those who integrate a new project for the first time.
A large-scale electrical project requires qualified personnel because the risks are more complicated to manage. Due to the high percentage of accidents.
What personal protective equipment should an electrician use?
The use of the different equipment for personal protection, such as safety shoes, dielectric helmets and glasses, are all standardized and in good condition at all times. Dielectric gloves and facial protectors when performing on electrical panels.
Practices of safe work respecting the rules of procedure such as the good condition of the electrical installations and the awareness achieved about the risks present in the use of electrical energy will avoid accidents.
- Helmet: Workers in this field must pay special attention to safety standards in electricity. An electrician must wear a helmet type A, permanently as it protects against risks of blows, impacts and splashes of igneous substances. Safety helmets are made with materials that are resistant to the action of fire, solvents, impacts, and abrasion and have low conductivity. Some of the most commonly used materials are high-strength laminated plastics and resin-impregnated glass fibres.
- Safety glasses: They are glasses with lateral protection, transparent for interiors and dark for exteriors.
- FR Clothing: Among the safety standards in electricity, safety clothing, especially overalls, must be made of cotton in low-voltage tasks, but in high-voltage tasks or where there is a risk of generating sparks due to the accumulation of static in garments, conductive clothing made of polyester and other synthetic fibres that promote static discharge is used.
- Harness or seat belt: When the electrician works at height, he must use a full-body safety harness, so that, in the event of an accident, the fall can be stopped.
- Gloves: Rubber: They have a specific use work in electrical tasks. They are used on low-voltage energized circuits.
- Safety shoes: An electrician should wear insulating safety shoes, and be free of studs, eyelets, and metal parts, except for the toe cap, which is covered with insulating material. Insulation is achieved through the use of rubber compounds. And you should always work with dry shoes.
- Face protection: The electrician must wear a face shield when working with an electrical panel or drilling concrete or other materials to route conduit within a wall or floor. You already know the risks of being an electrician.
Electrical hazards and control measures NEBOSH
We know how important workplace safety is for accident prevention, especially when handling cables, wires and other elements of the electrical network. The consequences of a shock vary according to the intensity of the electric current (measured in amperes) and the path travelled by this current through the human body.
But, whatever the environment and the risks involved, all work involving electricity must be done with proper care and equipment. One of the biggest dangers when it comes to electrical safety is electrical shock. Electrical shocks can cause muscle contractions and, depending on certain factors, such as current and exposure time, can lead to cardiac and respiratory arrest.
Burns are also a common consequence of this type of accident, in addition to the danger of fire due to electrical failure. Whoever installs and maintains aerial electrical networks, such as light poles and urban wiring, is also subject to falls.
Electrical hazards in the workplace and control measures
Electrical safety is very important in any kind of project that is carried out due to the high accident rates that the sector represents. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), estimates that more than 230,000 young people in North America suffer work-related injuries annually.
This is because novice workers are the ones with a high level of risk for on-the-job injuries compared to those with more experience. In this sense, the NIOSH ensures that training in health and safety issues, and biosafety, is essential to specifically control existing occupational hazards in addition to reducing accidents through training before hiring employees.
It is recommended that the employer provide more frequent checks for appliances or equipment that are more likely to be damaged (such as portable power tools and equipment that is regularly moved or used frequently in harsh environments). Frequent checks are less necessary for equipment that is less likely to be damaged. Click here
The employer should consider whether electrical equipment including portable appliances needs to be inspected or more formally tested by a competent person, and at what intervals this should be done.
Arrangements should be made for the inspection and testing of fixed wiring installations to be carried out regularly to prevent deterioration and the dangers that may entail. These tasks should be carried out by a competent person, usually an electrician.
Grounding is a way to protect equipment so that in the event of an electrical failure, the current will flow safely to the ground instead of flowing through a person who might be touching the equipment.
The ground wire of an item of electrical equipment is usually connected to the outer metal casing or chassis of the equipment. If a fault develops and the case or chassis is activated, then a fault current will flow through this ground.
The advantages of grounding are:
- Protects the person from fatal electrical shocks.
- Often provides secondary protection to equipment because a large fault current flowing to the ground will overestimate and trip the fuse or MCB.
Electrical hazard identification and risk assessment examples
Electrical safety must be respected in all projects carried out, whether in a large-scale company or simply within the home, due to the high accident rate that it means. Companies must have suitable personnel and the appropriate and certified electrical protection equipment to perform correctly and train less experienced workers.
In addition, certain guidelines must be maintained so that electrical safety is in force in everyday life and accidents are avoided.
What are electrical hazards?
The main hazards involved in working with electricity are:
- Poor planning and supervision of work activities
- Deploying untrained and inexperienced workers to conduct electrical work
- Failure to wear appropriate PPE for the activity being undertaken
- Using defective power cables and tools and equipment
- Absence of grounding and GFCI
- Failure to follow a safe system of work and practice
Electrical shocks can also cause other types of injuries, for example, falls from ladders or scaffolding. The risk assessment should take into account the type of electrical equipment used, how it is used and the environment in which it is used.
Fuses, circuit breakers, and other devices must be rated for the circuits they protect. Cables, plugs, outlet boxes and connections must be sufficiently resistant and adequately protected are properly maintained to prevent hazards. You must ensure that an assessment of all electrical hazards has been carried out, including:
- People likely to suffer harm
- How the level of risk has been established, and
- The precautions are taken to control the risk.
- The plug or connector is damaged;
- The cable has been repaired with duct tape, is not secure, or has exposed internal wires, etc., and
- Burn marks or spots are visible (indicating that overheating may have occurred).