Many people assume that the people most at risk of suffering injury from electricity are those that work with electricity. This isn’t the case as most workplace injuries associated with electricity arise from people using it as part of their job requirement or indirectly as a result of faults. The major causes of electrical risks are electric shock from direct or indirect contact, arcing / explosion / fire causing burns, electric shock from step and touch potentials and fire resulting from an electrical fault.
What then can we do to make it safe for workers in our workplaces and even for our families at home? There are some simple steps that we can all take that will make it safer:
Check cables and power tools prior to use
Position cables where they can’t be damaged or cause a trip hazard
Don’t use cables and power tools in damp conditions (unless designed for that purpose)
Use appropriately rated fuses and circuit breakers to prevent overloading
Don’t re-energise overloaded circuits until the cause has been identified by a qualified person
Ensure all circuits where portable electrical devices can be connected are protected by Residual Current Devices (RCDs).
In addition, there are a number of further steps that need to be taken and some are required by law depending on the work environment. Regular testing (and tagging) will uncover faults undetectable by visual inspection and is a legal requirement when used in environments ‘likely to result in damage to the equipment or a reduction in its expected life span’. A simple interpretation of this would be any industrial use. Furthermore, it is a requirement to ensure that RCD protection is installed where electricity is supplied to plug in electrical equipment and that this RCD protection is regularly tested.
In regards to your workplace, are your power tools and cables in good condition? Is equipment in hostile operating requirements tested and tagged and in date? Is there a record of test and tagged equipment? Is RCD protection provided for plug in electrical equipment? Are the RCDs tested and a record maintained of the inspections? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it would be beneficial to implement a process to ensure that these questions are regularly assessed.
Don’t wait for the ‘tingle’ always experienced at a power outlet to become a serious workplace injury!
If you need help with System implementation and workplace inspection systems, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements.