Electricity has the ability to kill or severely injure people as well as cause damage to property. Looking at the following preventative factors you can take avoid the most the common accidents from working with or near electricity and electrical equipment, reducing the risk of injury to yourself, your colleagues and others around you.
The main hazards of working with electricity are:
- 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 vapours or dusts, for example in a spray paint booth
Electric shocks can also lead to other types of injury, for example by causing a fall from ladders or scaffolds etc.
You must make sure a risk assessment is made regarding any electrical hazards. This covers:
- who could be harmed by them
- the level of risk
- the actions/precautions made to control the risk
In wet/damp surroundings, unsuitable equipment can become live and make its surroundings live too. Fuses, circuit-breakers and other devices must be correctly rated for the circuit they protect. Fuse boxes should be kept closed locked if possible.
Cables, plugs sockets and fittings must be robust enough and adequately protected for the working environment.
You must ensure that electrical equipment are maintained to prevent any potential hazards.
People using electrical equipment should carry out regular checks. Equipment should be removed from use immediately if:
- the plug or socket is damaged
- the cable has been inadequately repaired, i.e. with tape
- burn marks are present
Repairs should be carried out by competent people, with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to carry out the work safely.
Check items that are more likely to become damaged more frequently. Less frequent checks are needed for equipment less likely to become damaged (eg desktop computers).
Consider whether electrical equipment should be more formally inspected or tested by a competent person. Also think about the intervals at which this should be done.
When is someone competent to do electrical work?
In the context of safety, a competent person is someone who has the suitable training, skill, and knowledge for the task to be undertaken to prevent injury to themselves and others.
Key points to remember
- Ensure that workers know how to use relevant electrical equipment safely
- Make sure enough sockets are available. Check that sockets are not overloaded by over using adaptors.
- Make sure there are no trailing cables that can cause people to trip or fall
- Stop using equipment straight away if it is faulty – have it checked by a competent person
- Ensure any electrical equipment brought to work by employees is suitable for use before using it.
Electrical Safety and many other essential topics are covered in our Online Health and Safety course. Find out more here.
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