We all use electricity on a daily basis; it’s become a necessary part of everyday life. However we must remember the dangers of electricity as it can kill or severely injure a person or cause damage to properties. This could be from contact with an electrical current causing shock or burns, faults which could cause a fire or an explosion where electricity could be the source. Electrical hazards are estimated to cause around 300 deaths and 4000 injuries in US workplaces each year. It should not be forgotten about or underestimated.
Electrical safety in the workplace is vital as we use electricity in in every job we do, from typing on our computers to boiling the kettle. It is something that all business owners and managers should be conscious of and in order to reduce the risk of accidents with electricity, it’s important to take some precautions.
Electrical equipment should be tested on a regular basis. This could be checking them yourself or using PAT testing services, which is completed through visual checks and electronic tests to ensure safety is maintained. If you already suspect that something is faulty then take it out of use as soon as possible to prevent any hazards.
Where equipment is being used every day, this is most important. Computers and tills are used in the workplace constantly and therefore pose a safety threat if not maintained. Kettles, ovens and food processors are used in cafes and restaurants but also in offices. As they are used so frequently in these environments, appliances need to be fit for use. A switch could be provided near each piece of equipment in order to cut off power in an emergency. When in a factory, electricity is heavily relied on and can be the most dangerous if anything goes wrong. The right safety measures need to be in place so this does not happen.
Signs should be present to alert workers to electricity dangers. Low voltage cables are still hazardous and should be clearly marked to avoid anyone touching them.
Employees need to have proper training to ensure that they can carry out tasks safely. Accidents can always potentially happen, but as an employer you need to keep your workers as safe as possible, otherwise if anything was to happen then legal action could be taken. If you are a business owner then it is your responsibility to make sure your employees are working in a safe environment, ultimately this should be paramount to your company policy.
The correct PPE should be furnished by the employer, protective gear that meets the needs of the workers. Dielectric glasses, proper gloves, and hardhats that do not conduct electricity should be worn.
David Quarmby is an expert in electrical compliance and testing for businesses and is part of the ElectricalCerts group.