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Take Precautions to Avoid Electrocution on the Job featured image

Take Precautions to Avoid Electrocution on the Job

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, cited a Florida company with two counts of willful violations for exposing workers to electrical-shock hazards, after one worker was fatally electrocuted.

The man on the Orlando worksite went into a trench to splice electrical wires for streetlights and made contact with live wires, killing him.

Employers, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, are responsible for providing a safe and healthy work environment for employees.

And since virtually every workplace operates with electricity, this is an important topic. All electrical equipment can be potentially hazardous and can cause burns or shocks if improperly used or maintained. Anyone who works around electricity must follow safety-related work practices to keep themselves safe.

10 Ways to Prevent Contact with Electrical Current

  1. First off, stay away from electric hazards. For those who must work in the same area where there is a potential electrical hazard, maintain a safe distance. There should be no exposed wires around the work area.
  2. De-energize equipment in advance of work. Live electrical parts must be de-energized before work is performed near them. Lock and tag out electrical systems or parts according to your employer’s lockout/tagout policy. The policy is in place to protect employees while performing service and maintenance.
  3. Use electrical equipment safely. Using electrical equipment properly can ensure a safe workplace. Unplug cords by pulling the plug head, not the cord. Do not overstretch or press electrical cords. Never fasten cords with staples. Never dangle electrical equipment from cords. Inspect all plugs and cords for external defects prior to use.
  4. Physical barriers should be installed around electrical hazards. Protect employees by installing physical barriers. Always close cabinet doors for electric panels. If that is not possible, or if an electrical hazard cannot be fully enclosed, use insulating materials, barriers or shields.
  5. Always assume electric parts are live and act accordingly. Never use conductive tools in the work area. For those cleaning an area, know that some cleaning materials are conductive. All solvent- and water-based cleaners are electrically conductive, as is steel wool and metalized cloth.
  6. Always look above for electrical lines. There is potential for live electrical equipment above floor level at many work sites. Always use a portable ladder with non-conductive side rails and stay at least 10 feet from exposed electrical lines.
  7. Any equipment that may cause ignition should not be used near gasses, dust or flammable vapors.
  8. Stay away when you encounter a live electrical wire. Only a qualified employee should work on live wires. Use the same safety precautions for hazardous electrical equipment.
  9. Follow your employer’s safety practices. Every company has a set of electrical safety practices. Know those practices and follow them.
  10. Electric shock can kill. Always treat electrical parts as if they are live. Live parts look no different than de-energized parts, so take precautions by keep power on its path and protecting yourself.

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.