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OSHA Puts Emphasis on Electrical Safety

Electrical hazards killed four construction workers in Kansas and Missouri within five months in 2021, prompting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, to re-emphasize the importance of taking the proper safety precautions to avoid such incidents.

The victims were a 40-year-old electrical contractor replacing light fixtures, a 22-year-old cleaning a Higbee pig barn with a pressure washer, and a 41-year-old doing heating and air conditioning work. Also, a 35-year-old electrical contractor died after climbing a pole.

The cause of all those deaths was electrocution.

OSHA is alerting all employers to review their safe electrical work practices with employees in response to the increased electrocutions.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 3.75% increase, or 166 workplace deaths due to electrocution, in 2019. So far in 2021, there have been 12 electrical-related deaths just in Kansas and Missouri.

“Recent tragedies in Missouri and Kansas are reminders of the danger of electrical exposures in the workplace,” said OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City, Missouri. “OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect employees from electric shock and electrocution. Employers should implement safety and health programs and are required

to train workers on identifying hazards and use required protective measures to ensure all employees end each workday safely.”

Electrical Hazards and Concerns

Among the top concerns in the workplace are:

  • Overloaded circuits
  • Overhead power lines
  • Exposed electrical parts
  • Damaged power tools or other equipment
  • Environmental hazards, such as water

The first thing to do to mitigate these hazards is to invest in proper training for any employees exposed to these situations. Employees must always be aware of the hazards they face and how to prevent accidents.

Prevention Measures

Make safety a top priority on construction sites.

  1. Conduct Risk Assessments – Risk assessments are one of the most important ways to prevent accidents and reduce overall risk. Workers should survey the work area before starting work and conduct risk assessments of any electrical hazards. This measure will inform workers of the site dangers and help you establish safety plans and procedures to avoid mishaps.
  2. Determine Where Electrical Hazards are Located – Inform workers of the exact location of any electrical hazards. Use project management software to track all such hazards efficiently. This can save time and money. Photograph the hazards and take notes on safety precautions. Save all this information to the cloud and share it with workers on the job site.
  3. Use Testing Equipment – Using testing equipment can help prevent shocks and other potential electrical dangers. Testing allows you to assess the risk level on a site properly. For example, test all wiring to see if it is grounded, dead, or needs additional safety equipment. Use high-quality testing equipment, including voltage detectors, receptacle testers and clamp meters.
  4.  Give Employees Proper Training – While your employees are already professionals, safety training is often overlooked and should not be. As a result, bad habits form and so does improper equipment usage. So, it is essential to give workers refresher training on how to carry out their work properly.
  5. Use Circuit Breakers and Voltage Regulators – Surge protectors are great for shutting down power in an emergency and voltage regulators will help prevent damage during surges.
  6. Always wear PPE – Personal Protective Equipment is the first line of defense against electrical accidents. While working with electricity, always wear gloves and footwear that will protect against electrical accidents.

Save your employees by having their backs with proper training and equipment to avoid unnecessary and avoidable electrical accidents.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.