Electrical Safety in the Workplace

Electrical Safety Blog

There are very few of us who don’t use electrical equipment on a daily basis, so electrical safety should really be something that we’re aware of. Electricity is something that, if something was to go wrong, can cause severe injury, cause damage to property and even kill; so, we wanted to help make you aware of the main hazards, risks and any precautions you should take.

What are the Main Hazards of Working with Electricity?

If you’re regularly working with electricity or electrical equipment, you should be aware of what the main hazards of unsafe working are. You could be affected by:

  • Electric shock and burns from contact with live parts
  • Injury from exposure to arcing, fire from faulty electrical equipment or installations
  • Explosion caused by unsuitable electrical apparatus or static electricity igniting flammable vapour or dusts

Electric shocks can also lead to other types of injury, such as causing falls from ladders or scaffolds.

What to Do?

You should carry out a risk assessment of any electrical hazards, which should cover:

  • Who could be harmed;
  • How the level of risk has been established; and
  • Precautions taken to control the risk

You should also take into account the equipment that is used, how it’s used and the environment it’s used in. Always make sure that the electrical installation and equipment is suitable for its intended use, and that it is only used for its intended purpose. Something else to consider is the conditions, in which electrical equipment is being used:

  • In wet surroundings, unsuitable equipment can become live and make its surroundings live too
  • If you’re outdoors, the equipment can no only become wet, but the risk of damage increases
  • Working in cramped spaces means it is going to be more difficult to avoid shock.

Everyone is responsible to make sure that work is carried out safely; workers have a responsibility to ensure they keep themselves and others safe. Managers do have the duty to provide the resources, training and instruction necessary to ensure their workers work safely and in a manner that doesn’t endanger others.

Who is Most at Risk?

The people who are most at risk when dealing with electricity are: maintenance staff; those working with electrical plant, equipment and machinery; and people working in harsh environments (e.g. construction sites).

Most accidents occur because individuals:

  • are working on equipment which is incorrectly thought to be dead
  • working on or near equipment known to be live, but lack the appropriate training/equipment or haven’t taken the correct precautions
  • misuse equipment or use known faulty equipment.

Who is Competent to do Electrical Work?

The answer to this question is pretty simple: someone with suitable training, skill and knowledge for the task in hand, and are able to conduct it in a manner that will prevent injury to themselves and others.

How Often Should You Test Electrical Equipment?

Electrical equipment should always be visually checked to help spot any signs of damage or wear and tear. However, this isn’t enough; electrical equipment should also be tested more thoroughly by a competent person. This testing should be carried out often enough so there is little chance the equipment will become hazardous between tests. Any equipment that is used in harsh environments should be tested more frequently.

It’s good practice to decide on how often the equipment should be checked (e.g. on a monthly/yearly basis). When you have decided on this, make a note of it, carry out your checks in accordance with the timetable you’ve created and always document your results.

A Few Things to Remember

  • Make sure your workers know how to use electrical equipment safely
  • Ensure enough sockets are available – check outlets aren’t overloaded
  • Don’t allow trailing cables – these can cause trips/falls
  • Switch off and unplug appliances before cleaning/adjusting them
  • Everyone should look for electrical wires/cables/equipment near where they’re working and should check for signs of danger
  • Anyone working electric should have sufficient skills, knowledge and experience
  • Don’t use equipment if it appears faulty
  • Any equipment brought by employees, or hired/borrowed, should be checked it’s suitable for use and maintained properly.

If you’re struggling with anything to do with electrical safety, or need some advice on best practice don’t hesitate to get in touch and one of our consultants would be happy to help. We also offer template electrical risk assessments and method statements on our website to get you started.

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