The Electrical Safety Foundation International (EDFI) has designated May as National Electrical Safety Month. On average, there are more than 300 deaths and over 4,000 injuries per year caused by Electrical Hazards in workplaces here in the United States. Over 60% of the injuries are due to electric shock, the remainder caused by electric burns. Electric shock is caused by either direct or indirect contact with a conductive part that is energized. Electrical arcing, explosions or fire result in burns. Toxic gases released as a result of fire as well as the burning of electrical equipment often leads to severe illness or death.
Contact with 50 volts AC or 120 volts DC can result is serious health issues. And High Voltage shocks involving 1000 volts AC or 1500 volts DC will result in both serious burns and organ damage. Along with these electrical safety issues, there is the distinct possibility that electric shock will lead to other related injuries. These include but not limited to falling from stairs, ladders or elevated platforms. And faulty electrical equipment can lead to fires which can lead to smoke inhalation, injury and death.
The National Electrical Code 90.2 of the National Fire Prevention Association addresses electrical safety-related work practices. It covers activities such as installation, inspection, operation, maintenance and demolition of conductors, electrical equipment, signaling and communications equipment. All of these operations in one way or another deal with portable electric equipment, exposed plugs and sockets and extension leads adding to the threat of injury. Areas of main concern are any type of work outdoors or areas where water may be present and in cramped spaces where it is difficult to avoid electrical wiring, or equipment.
Here are some very basic procedures designed to prevent electrical related injuries while working in an industrial environment:
Licensed electricians must install, check and inspect all equipment; equipment should be rated by a national rating service; insure there are enough outlets so as not to cause an overload in any particular area; shut down equipment when not needed; shut down and lockout equipment that is being serviced or in need of repair (OSHA Lockout:Tagout 1910.147;) a set of general electric procedures and regulations must be established and training required pertaining to them along with the Lockout:Tagout procedures; Whenever changes are made to any of the equipment or new equipment is installed, bulletins announcing those changes must be made. And those changes must be added to the procedures and training. Signs warning of the Danger, such as “HIGH VOLTAGE” must be placed strategically throughout the facility.