By Maire Hunter

Every day, the modern office buzzes with thousands of volts of electricity from the computers, lights, fax machines and host of other electrical equipment we use to accomplish the work required. It’s a marvel how quickly we’ve equipped the workplace with technology. But we’ve also created the potential for electrical disaster if not prevented. Working at an office might feel safer than working with heavy equipment like bulldozers, boats or forklifts, but with the amount of electricity moving inches into our walls, it’s important to recognize, prepare for and prevent electrical hazards.

Here are a few crucial reminders when creating an electrically safe office environment.

Don’t Piggyback Power Points

Especially when working at an office where several desks and computers are collected in a single room, it’s tempting to overload power points by using double adaptors. This is extremely dangerous. Doing this, you run the risk of electrical surges that can lead to electrocution or fire. Instead, make common use of power strips, which are safer and prevent power surges.

A Tidy Office Is a Safe Office

Here’s a good rule of thumb: wires should touch walls. When using extension cords or power cords, make sure you run the wire along walls, on the floor. This averts people from tripping over wires that are exposed. And this also reduces the amount of wear the wires are exposed to, like walkways and opening doors, which will prevent any direct exposure to electricity.

Keep Electrical Equipment Updated And Evaluated

Immediately dispose and replace any wires that show signs of wear. You should also frequently check circuit breakers, as this is your primary defense against dangerous power surges. Ballasts limit the amount of electricity lights are exposed to, which is helpful for using power efficiently. But these should be checked and replaced often to ensure that worn ballasts don’t go out when you need lights the most.  

Always Turn Off the Power

When working to fix a computer or when replacing a light bulb, it’s important to turn off the power beforehand. A good habit to form is turning off the power whenever you aren’t using a device. That way you reduce the danger of ever forgetting an appliance is live.

Water and Power—Not Even Once
Many accidents involving water and electricity occur in unsuspecting ways. An employee has wet hands while working with an electrical tool, or an electrical device gets plugged in and forgotten when near a faucet or drink. Keep an eye out for any potential exposure. Employees can work together to make sure there’s never a slip-up and that water is always kept far away from any electrical power source. Furthermore, remember that you should never use water to extinguish electrical fires, and should have fire extinguishers on hand for such an event.

By keeping a vigilant eye for potential electrical hazards, you are keeping your co-workers and yourself safe. By reviewing these steps and others with your co-workers, you greatly reduce an accident from ever occurring. Stay safe. Stay aware.