Explore the best practices for worker safety concerning electricity during National Electrical Safety Month in May.
May is National Electrical Safety Month! The event was started by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). The ESFI is a non-profit devoted to promoting electrical safety in the home, school, and workplace. Electrical safety in the workplace is an important topic. There were 160 electrical fatalities in the workplace in 2018, and 54% of those fatal injuries were in the construction industry. Explore the ESFI’s best practices when it comes to staying safe around electricity in the workplace, and make sure every employee goes home at the end of the workday.
Electrical Best Practices in the Workplace
Following best practices helps to ensure that electrical injuries don’t occur in the first place. The ESFI recommends these best practices for electrical safety in the workplace:
- Arc Flash Awareness. An arc flash, also called a flashover, is an electrical explosion or discharge resulting from a connection through air to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system. It creates a bright light and an intense amount of heat that causes fires, serious burns, and death. It can also create pressure waves that can create a bomb-like effect. It can be caused by accidentally bridging electrical contacts with a conducting object, the dropping of tools, when conductive dust builds up, or through corrosion. ESFI has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Office of Mine Safety and Health (NIOSH) to create a video concerning arc flash awareness.
- De-energize. Working on and around energized equipment increases a worker’s risk of being injured or killed by electricity. Powering down electrical equipment when not in use is the number one way to reduce electrical injuries and fatalities.
- Lockout/Tagout. This is a procedure to safely take a dangerous machine or piece of equipment out of service so it can be repaired; part of the procedure is locking the equipment and tagging it as dangerous. According to OSHA, following lockout/ tagout procedures prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries every year.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE consists of safety gear that will protect workers in case of an accident, malfunction, fall, or other injury-causing event. It includes hats, gloves, goggles, safety shoes, flame-resistant shirts and pants, safety glasses, face shields, fall protection equipment, and more. Having and wearing the correct PPE can be the difference between walking away from an electrical accident or being seriously injured or worse.
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