3 simple steps to avoid Electrical harm in the workplace
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
In this day and age you will struggle to find a workplace that doesn't require some form of electricity to function. All systems, devices, and equipment will require some form of electrical power source.
We provide Electrical Compliance to prevent any type of electrical injury or hazard in any form of commercial premises. However, today we want to look at what steps duty holders can be taking themselves, when looking to prevent electrical harm in the workplace.
What are the risks to avoid
Electricity as well as being a revolutionary tool in everything that we do on a daily basis, it is also incredibly dangerous if not managed in a safe way. There are many ways that electricity can injure and in worst case scenarios, endanger lives. Lets look at some of them.
When parts of electrically charged machinery, devices, or equipment are left open and live, occupant exposure to these can be deadly, exposure can come in both the form of direct touching, or indirectly, through touching an object that is conducting live electricity.
Exposure to powerful electricity can result in horrific injury or even sometimes death. Electric shock most commonly can result in burns as well as evoking other injuries because of the shock. A good example would be if a person were to be working at height and come into contact with a live element of the building, they would likely fall due to being incapacitated from the electrical shock. This can result in serious, permanent and life changing injuries.
Electrical fault is now the leading cause of most fires that start in both domestic and commercial properties, with the risks being unfathomable. So reducing the possibility of an electrically caused fire in the workplace is just as important as preventing electrical shock.
3 steps to reducing electrical risk in the workplace
Below are 3 main steps any duty holder should be taking in order to reduce risk of electrical harm towards all occupants on site.
1. Routine testing and inspections of all electrical systems and equipment
As well as it being a legal obligation to ensure that all systems and electrical items on your site are safely monitored and maintained, it should be common sense and common knowledge for the person responsible to ensure that these duties are fulfilled.
This can be achieved by conducting self checks from employees on site, but also routine periodic testing and inspections from an experienced, competent electrical professional to reduce hazards and significantly reduce risk of electrical harm. By seeing to it that these activities take place, this will ensure that any potential faults are identified early and rectified early. Also giving you documented compliance records of works taking place for both insurance and legal obligations.
2. Take care when cleaning and maintaining
Care and maintenance from the people operating equipment and operating machinery that are electrically powered is vital, especially as most professional testing and checkups come around annually at best, therefore the window in between professional maintenance is vast. When looking after all electrical systems and equipment it is important to ensure that power is switched off and in if necessary, unplugged.
A simple step like ensuring that clear signage is put up to further enforce and warn occupants to take extra care when cleaning, maintaining, and handling these potentially dangerous elements, you will greatly reduce the risk of electrical harm to occupants.
3. Avoid contact with water
As you will know, water is a conductor of electricity, this makes it extremely dangerous to mix the two. It is imperative that if possible, you avoid any potential for water to come into contact with any electrical device, whether live or not. If it is not possible to avoid water being around electrical items or devices at your premises, such as leisure centres or swimming pools, steps should be taken. For example, for any wet areas that electrically powered machinery, devices, or items have to be in, you should always ensure that they are either plugged into a GFCI outlet, or that a GFCI extension cord is used, to avoid any likelihood of electrocution.
Also in terms of PPE to be worn, rubber gloves and boots will massively subdue the power of any potential electrical shock.