It is a proven fact that everyone’s lives are almost totally dependent on electricity. A one-hour blackout can send some people into a whirlwind not knowing what to do, are unable to get any important work finished, what they are going to do without electricity to charge their computers and cell phones and more. The dependency on electricity is increasing so it is time to learn sometimes about electrical safety.
Electrical safety is important to know because there are many hazards that can happen from not following the basics of handling electrical appliances and electricity in general. It you mishandle electrical appliances or handle them without using the right safety measures can result in electrical fires. Many fires that occur each year are due to electricity mishandling or not following electricity safety. Adults and children both should learn about electrical safety.
One of the most important things to remember in regards to electrical safety is to avoid exposing appliances and electrical outlets to water. This type of combination can be very dangerous so if you have wet hands do not plug or unplug electrical appliances or touch electrical outlets. If you have any electrical outlets in areas that are water prone like your kitchen or bathroom you should have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). This piece of electrical equipment, in case of exposure to water, will help to prevent shocks.
When you are unplugging a cord make sure that you do not tug on the cord but instead pull out the plug. If you tug on the cord instead of pulling it out by the plug it can result in the exposure of electrical wires. It can also be harmful. Any appliance that you are not constantly using should be unplugged. There are some appliances that generate heat, like your refrigerator and television, which should be located in areas that have an open space around them. This will help to normalize the high temperatures they put out. Make sure that any appliances that generate heat are not cramped up with other appliances around them because they could overheat and cause problems.
Before you plug in any appliance make sure that you are checking the wattage because there could be a variation in wattage that could cause short circuits and electrical shocks, which can be dangerous. Make sure that you do not overload an electrical socket with too many appliances. If you need to use a surge protector instead of an extension cord. Cover any open electrical outlets with a face place to prevent any exposure of open wires.
In the UK during the last financial year, 137 people were killed in the workplace. In addition, 31.2 million working days were lost and 14.9 billion was lost due to injuries and ill health resulting from working conditions.
One of the key areas of office and workplace safety is around electrical items and the dangers these can pose. The hazards can range in size and scale, from electrical cords causing trip risk to full scale electrocution. If control measures are not put in place and regular checks not carried out, then you may be putting your employees at substantial risk.
Common electrical injuries
Office or workplace electrical injuries can take many forms but some of the most common are electric shocks. This is when voltage applied to the body causes electrical current to flow through the person. This blocks signals to the brain which can have a series of mild and severe consequences on the body. These can include muscle spasms, stopping of breathing and heart failure.
Similarly, electrical burns are caused when this current passing through the person causes muscle tissue to heat up. These burns are often very deep and difficult to treat. Although more usual at higher voltages, they can still happen at office level voltages. Other injury types include thermal burns and loss of muscle control.
Identifying the causes
Some of the most common types of electrical injuries in the workplace are caused by:
- Equipment that is poorly installed or maintained
- Dangerous wiring
- Overloaded or overheated outlets
- Accidental use of live equipment
- Incorrect fuse use
- Use of electrical equipment near water
All the above risks and plenty more are entirely preventable if the right safety measures are put in place. With that in mind, there are five key things you can do to make your office and workplace safe for everyone.
Install and maintain safe appliances
Under the Electricity at Work Regulations Act (1989) it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that all equipment is fit for purpose and does not pose any danger to staff or the public. This includes making sure that all electrical equipment is safe for use in its intended purpose. All equipment should have been subject to the required checks before being brought into the office or workplace. Similarly, any equipment that you use should be installed and maintained by a qualified engineer. Any faults that are discovered should be reported immediately.
Additionally, to check the ongoing safety of office electricals, many companies will conduct yearly inspections such as PAT Testing. In using testing equipment such as Fluke testers, these inspections can help identify any faults in electrical equipment that may be a risk to employees.
Employee training and awareness
Many electrical injuries and accidents are caused by a lack of knowledge or training around certain areas. Staff should be trained to spot the signs of electrical danger, such as frayed electrical cables, odours that signify electrical danger, overloaded power outlets and more. With the right training, they will be able to spot the signs of faulty equipment, and good reporting practice should help to prevent accidents.
Modern offices and workplaces need electricity to function. Almost every aspect of business depends on it. And this electrical current has to come into the building and be arranged somewhere. These places should be safely out of the way and behind closed doors. It is also a good idea to maintain a safe clearance zone of at least one metre from any electrical panels.
Deal with cords
These are one of the main causes of electrical injury in the office for a number of reasons. Not only do they get frayed and expose live wires, but they are also trip hazards. Cords get snagged or tugged, pulling electrical items off work tops, further increasing the risks.
All electrical cables should ideally be well positioned to limit risk. Avoid having cables in high traffic areas where they can be damaged. Keep them clear of heat sources or water and use cable ties to keep cables neatly stowed. Any faulty or damaged cables should be removed or replaced immediately.
Turn off the power
Another major cause of accidents is people not realising equipment is live. Make it common practice to turn off equipment when not in use, shut down electrical equipment and take out the plugs when closing down the office each night. In addition, all appliances should be turned off before cleaning.
Not only will following these tips for electrical safety reduce the risk of accidents and injury to you, your staff and customers but it is also good for business. Reducing the numbers of accidents and sick days taken from avoidable injuries will help to minimise the economic impact. Keeping your staff safe in the workplace really is good for business, in every sense of the term.
Whether working around electricity or just general electricity basics at home, safety is first and foremost the main thing that you need to consider. Even when you think you already have a safe work environment or safe home, this does not always mean that you are able to control or prevent potential hazards concerning electricity. This is why it is important that you stay cautious and always work safely so that you may be able to control several risks of injuries, even death.
We’ve compiled these tips and ways to be safe around electricity. These safety rules should give you a good starting point when it comes to using and working around electricity the right way.
• Don’t overload extension cords and / or outlets
Plugging a bunch of stuff in one extension cord or outlet could only damage the entire electrical system of your house or workplace. At some point, it can even lead to a fire if used incorrectly. Always keep in mind that extension cords are only for temporary use. If in case you need power in that particular spot permanently, make sure to have a licensed electrical contractor to install permanent wiring solution to that spot.
• Switch off and unplug electrical items / appliances that are not in use
This is highly important especially when you and your family will be out on vacation for a while and will have to leave the house alone for several days. Items left unplugged might be a fire risk and will also consume energy unnecessarily.
• Make sure all your outlets are childproof
Having several kids at home or at the work area also means having to ensure safety at all times, especially when it comes to electrical stuff. One great way to do this is to make sure that childproof plugs are used for your electrical outlets so that children won’t be able to poke small items into them.
• Never use electrical items in the bathroom
Most electrical items are not designed for bathroom use, and even when using such items like electric toothbrushes and shavers, you still need to watch out and be careful not to get them wet. You should also avoid plugging and unplugging them with wet hands.
• Look for marks of standards or approval before purchasing electrical products
States and countries do have specific standards when it comes to electrical products and you should only purchase those items that are approved and have passed those standards. These standards should be met to ensure that the product have met the electrical safety requirements.
• Inspect your electrical system regularly
A regular inspection will greatly help in prevent certain risks and problems from occurring. A licensed electrician should be able to help you maintain your system and have it inspected on a regular basis. This inspection will ensure that everything is running properly and is meeting the standard electric codes.
• Always make sure that leads and wires remain visible at all times
Leads and wires should never run under carpets so you can always check and see the state of the wires and cables. Aside from electrical safety, hidden wires often cause tripping and other related accidents especially when you have several kids around.
Other tips to keep in mind
Electrical safety is something that should never be taken for granted. Awareness and cautiousness can prevent possible accidents and even save lives, so to speak. Cords that have already cracked or frayed should be thrown away and replaced immediately. Remember to also stay away from power lines – maintain at least 10 feet of distance from nei
To work as an electrician there are certain tools that you must have in order to work efficiently and safely. Having the right tools can help an electrician work more comfortably, faster, and have fewer mistakes. They can also warn you of hot circuits that are nearby along with protecting your eyes and face from potentially dangerous saw fly-offs and sparks and help to insulate your body against an electric shock.
• Screwdrivers that are insulated-having a set of these types of screwdrivers can help you work on everything from the mounting light fixtures and outlet boxes to wall plate removal and installation. The part that is insulated is the handle, which will give you an extra measure of protection against an electric shock if it should accentually slip and make contact with an energized component or circuit. Sometimes the shaft is also insulated. Blade coatings and dielectric handles is what give the screwdrivers the power to buffer your body against direct contact with an energized component or circuit up to one thousand volts. You will not be electrocuted although you may feel a little sting or bite.
• Wire strippers-these are what an electrician uses to correctly strip wires. The wire stripper is normally gauged with graduated holes along the length of the wire stripper jaws. You use these holes to match the particular size wire that you want to strip. Because of these stripping notches are carefully sized an electrician can remove the insulation from the wiring without causing damage to the conductor underneath. By using these types of wire strippers your job will have a better chance of meeting code.
• Voltage sniffer-although an electrician knows that they have already shut things off at the breaker box it is still a good idea to make sure that the circuit is not live before they start to work on it. Some electricians use a receptacle tester but if the wires leading to it or the receptacle is damaged and the tester can give them a false negative even though electricity is still present. The tool does not need to make contact with the outlet prongs or wires but they do have the ability to detect live power.
• Hole saw-for a specialized job such as hanging light fixtures or recessed lighting an electrician will use this saw to make fast neat round cuts. The kits come with different size circular blades.
Unpredictable weather such as storms and flood are a part of life. Therefore, it is important to take the time to prepare your family and property.
There are a number of simple steps you can take to protect personal safety, preserve electrical equipment and deal with potential damage to the home’s electrical system. Make sure you are electrically safe by following these 7 tips:
1. Put safety first
Don’t try do-it-yourself repairs if your property suffers storm damage, including your home’s electrical system and any electrical appliances affected. Be ready before a storm or wet season.
– Install a safety switch and test it regularly.
– Know where to turn off your power, gas and water supply in an emergency.
– Pack up electrical equipment that’s not in use and store in a safe place.
2. Protect the system
Ask an electrician with experience in domestic electrical services about having lightning protection installed in your switchboard to protect all appliances.
3. Unplug before the storm
– Unplug outside TVs and non-fixed aerials and store in a dry area.
– When a storm approaches switch off and unplug sensitive appliances or equipment.
– Shut down your solar PV system using the safe isolation procedure.
4. Don’t connect during the storm
Don’t use equipment directly connected to electricity, including the stove, during a storm.
– If you’ve lost power, turn off your power points and unplug electrical equipment.
– Don’t use a fixed telephone during a thunderstorm – it can deliver an electric shock.
– If flood waters are expected, shift electrical equipment to higher locations.
5. Be cautious of wires
Don’t go outside to check the damage before an electrician arrives, especially during a storm, as fallen power lines are easily concealed and can be deadly.
– If you are in a car, stay away from power lines, trees and watercourses. Stay in your vehicle.
– If you have a solar PV system that has been damaged in a flood, storm or cyclone you need to have an electrical contractor inspect the system and check it is safe.
– Check your electrical appliances and equipment. Using water-damaged equipment can result in electric shocks and fires.
6. Call an electrician before your energy distributor
If the wires have been torn down in a black out, most houses will require internal repairs before the power can be reconnected.
– Dispose of or have a licensed electrical contractor repair water-affected household electrical items, such as kettles, toasters and televisions.
– Call a licensed electrician to check all hard-wired electrical appliances, such as air-conditioning units or stoves, intended for re-use. This safety check may be required before the power supply can be reconnected.
7. Be confident in your contractor
If you suffer storm damage connect with a local electrician . If you are using power from generators, it can be dangerous if incorrectly managed.
– Connect your generator to your house electrical wiring using a generator change-over switch and appropriate socket. These switches must be installed by a licensed electrical contractor.
– Do not connect your generator to your house using a power point on a power circuit or any other connection point. This can cause dangerous ‘back-feeding’.
During storm seasons, it is definitely worth being extra cautious with your home electrical systems and equipment. The practical stops you take could reduce the risk of electrical fires and safeguard your family from any potential hazards.