During National Electrical Safety Month in May, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is bringing awareness to some of the main electrical risks, including shock and arc flash, resulting from contact with live components and working on abandoned, de-energized, or disconnected equipment. These hazards can lead to severe injury, burns, and even death.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 126 fatal electrical injuries in 2020. Even though this is a decrease of 24% from 2019, 44% of those happened in the construction industry and “using or operating tools and machinery” accounted for 22% of electrical fatalities.*
These hazards apply to many companies that the Georgia Tech Safety, Health, and Environmental Services group works with on a regular basis. So we’ve put together several tips below in order to help reduce electrically related fatalities, injuries, and property loss in the workplace:
- Always look up – Power lines are the leading cause of electrical fatalities on construction sites. Always stay at least 10-feet away from any overhead lines.
- Be proactive – Implement safe work practices and regularly inspect electrical equipment by doing an incident energy analysis. Conduct arc flash studies to gather information and know what is coming into your facility from a utility standpoint.
- Use protective devices – A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is an electrical safety device that is designed to protect people from electrocution. Properly using a GFCI at the receptacle or breaker panel can trip the circuit breaker within milliseconds to prevent electrical shock.
- Have a plan – Our experts can provide guidance and resources so that you can create an Electrical Safety Program. Learn more about the other aspects of our OSHA 21 (d) Consultation Program, a no-cost, confidential service for small and medium sized businesses in Georgia.
- Stay up to date on your training – Improve your safety awareness and gain an understanding of which OSHA standards apply to electrical hazards and how to correct them. Register for our upcoming courses OSHA 3095: Electrical Standards and NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, which can be taken together and will count towards completion of the Facilities Maintenance Safety Certificate.
- Select and Wear your PPE properly – This is your last line of defense in the event of a momentary electric arc, flash fire, or energized equipment exposure. Regular clothes will continue to burn, which can cause severe injury. Wear the right equipment at all times, as you never know when an incident might occur.
- Test before you touch – Simply turning off the power is not enough, as hazards may still exist. Make sure a qualified person tests the circuit using a verified device to identify potential dangers and avoid injury. If possible, never work on live circuits. Equipment should be put in a safe electrical work condition.
“By regularly practicing good safety habits, you can avoid potential hazards and injuries caused by negligence, create a safe workplace, and arm employees with the tools they need to return home safely”, said Thomas Dean, safety consultant and resident electrical expert.
Visit the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services page for more information on how we can help you reduce workplace injuries through focus-based and comprehensive assistance.
Writer: Raine Hyde