According to OSHA…An Electrical Hazard can be defined as a serious workplace hazard that exposes workers to burns, electrocution, shock, arc flash / arc blast, fire, or explosions. By identifying these hazards, and understanding how they happen, we can take steps to protect ourselves.
Types of Electrical Hazard Situations And What to Be Aware Of:
Contact with Energized Sources
Hazards regarding contact with energized sources are electrical shock and burns. Electrical shock occurs when the body becomes part of the electric circuit (when an individual comes in contact with both wires of an electrical circuit, one wire of an energized circuit and the ground, or a metallic part that has become energized by contact with an electrical conductor).
Contact with Power Lines
Overhead and buried power lines are hazardous because they carry extremely high voltage. Fatalities are possible as electrocution is the main risk; however, burns and falls from elevations are also hazards that workers are exposed to while working in the vicinity of high voltage power lines.
Improper Use of Extension and Flexible Cords
Normal wear and tear on extension and flexible cords can loosen or expose wires, creating a hazardous condition. Hazards are created when cords, cord connectors, receptacles, and cord- and plug connected equipment are improperly used and maintained. If the electrical conductors become exposed, there is a danger of shocks, burns, or fire.
BE SAFE! Electrical hazards expose workers to the following:
Burns: Three types; electrical, arc flash, or thermal contact.
Electrocution: Electrocution is fatal; it means to kill with electricity.
Shock: A response to electric current passing through the body.
Arc Flash/Blast: Emits heat and intense light that causes burns.
Fire: Occurs with faulty outlets, old wiring, cords, and switches.
Explosions: When electricity ignites explosive material in the air.
How to Protect Yourself:
- Inspect all electrical tools and equipment PRIOR to use.
- GFCIs are required on temporary electricity and wet locations.
- Never use anything that is damaged.
- Treat all electrical wires as if they were energized.
- Maintain a 10 FT clearance from all overheard lines.
- Allow only Qualified Electricians to perform electrical work.
- Keep at least 3 feet from all electrical panels.
- Ensure all tools and wiring are properly grounded.
- Require the proper PPE for the work being performed.
- NEVER work on hot electrical equipment, always de-energize.
- Follow the NEC and other Electrical Safe Work Practices.
- Train others on basic electrical safety and hazard recognition.