Electrocution is one of the top five causes of workplace deaths. Many workplace electrocutions involve touching a power line with long or tall equipment. Take responsibility for noticing, reporting, and correcting electrical hazards. Talk with your supervisor about hazards which have been reported but not corrected.
Safe Work Habits
Many electrical injuries could be prevented if people were alert to hazards. Use these tips to stay safe day to day:
- Stay aware by keeping focused on your job and don't let emotions like anger and frustration get in the way.
- It might take longer to keep your area clean and dry, or inspect cords for wear, but it's worth a few minutes to prevent shock or fire.
- Before using unfamiliar equipment, study instructions and get questions answered.
- Always use and maintain wiring, tools, and equipment correctly.
- Dirt and dampness increase the risk of shock. Keep your tools, work area, and storage space clean, and dry.
- When cleaning electrical equipment, be sure it's unplugged, and follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions.
- Before you start work, check electric cords for wear.
- If outside or in a wet location, be sure tools and extension cords are suitable for outdoor use and circuits are equipped with GFCIs.
- Check to be sure cords are free of oil, heat, and corrosive chemicals.
- Do not yank, kink or bend cords.
- Store cords loosely coiled in a dry place.
- Never carry a tool by its cord.
- Be sure a tool is switched "off" before plugging or unplugging - this protects you and the next person who uses it.
- Watch out for energized areas when reaching into equipment.
- Shields, barriers, insulation and GFCIs protect you, so don't modify them just to get a job done faster.
- Learn and follow your company's lockout/tag-out procedures.
- If in doubt, ask a qualified electrical worker for help.
- Uncoil an extension cord fully before use and ensure that the amperage marked on it is adequate
- Don't use equipment that gives off mild shocks, unusual heat, or odd smells. If in doubt, have it checked and repaired or replaced.
- Sweep up scraps and sawdust and store flammable liquids in approved containers.
- Don't use electrical equipment when flammable gases, vapors, liquids, dusts, or fibers are present.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment is your first line of defense against shock and electrical burns. PPE could save your life.
- Keep boots, gloves and other gear in good condition — even a pinhole will let electricity through.
- Wear non-conductive protection on your head, face, hands, and feet.
- Use insulated tools or handling equipment, such as non-conductive ropes and protective shields.
- Dirt and dampness increase the risk of shock. Keep your PPE as clean and dry as possible.