There are literally hundreds of different ways to suffer serious physical harm or long-term health problems while at the workplace. Even those workers who supposedly work in a relatively safe and secure office environment routinely suffer from a myriad of health problems including obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome, and diverse manifestations of heart disease that arise from a sedentary lifestyle. While these health risks are real, there are other occupations which, by their nature, experience potentially dangerous and hazardous working conditions on a daily basis. Electric workers are one of those occupations.
According to The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), there were 160 electrical fatalities in 2018, which represented an 18 percent increase over the previous year. Fatality rates for electric workers were among the highest in the country, with a 0.11 fatality rate per 100,000 workers. Furthermore, whereas many workplace accidents for other professions result in mild health problems, 9 percent of all electrical injuries were fatal in 2018.
These statistics prove that construction companies and others who hire electric workers need to develop policies and protocols that promote electrician safety. Below, we offer the top workplace electrical safety tips to help your company develop a workplace environment that promotes and encourages health and safety for electricians.
Health and Safety Issues for Electric Workers
Before we look at the specific workplace electrical safety tips, it is important to understand and identify the different health and safety issues specifically encountered by electric workers. While electrical shock is certainly the most dangerous (and often fatal) safety hazard, there are dozens of other issues that can jeopardize the health and safety of electricians. According to the Canadian Centre for Health and Occupational Safety (CCHOS), these risks include:
- Potential exposures to lead, solvents, solder, and other toxic materials
- Risk of electrical burns
- Fires in the workplace
- Welding hazards, including exposure to UV radiation
- Risk of pain or spinal injury from working in awkward positions, doing repetitive manual tasks, and/or lifting heavy objects
- Working at heights and the risk of falls
- Risk of eye injury from flying particles
- Slips, trips and falls
- Shift work or extended work days
- Mental health problems from working alone
- Possible exposure to asbestos
The Top Workplace Electrical Safety Tips
First and foremost, your company should develop a strict policy that only allows trained electricians to work on any live electrical wire. Make sure that all cabinets and electric boxes are properly sealed and closed to avoid any accidental contact.
For electrical workers specifically, some beneficial protocols include:
- Use insulated tools,
- Avoid water when working on electricity., Cut electricity before starting to work on any problem,
- Install signage that identifies “shock risks” and other potential dangers,
- Require the use of electrical testers before working on equipment. This ensures that electric workers will not be attempting to repair energized equipment. Purchase a multimeter for all of your electric workers if they don't have one.
- Install a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) in your building and check it at least once a month,
- Require the use of personal protective equipment (PPI) specific for electrical workers. You can read the OSHA outlines for the most important PPI for electrical workers here.
The above tips can help to drastically reduce the likelihood of potentially fatal electric shock. Other electrical worker safety tips can focus on training to identify and avoid potentially dangerous materials such as lead, asbestos, etc. Furthermore, promoting proper lifting techniques can also help to avoid back and other muscular problems that commonly afflict electric workers.
Work-Fit is a leading company that offers onsite injury prevention and management for your workforce, including electric workers. It is the nationwide leader in applying sports medicine techniques in the workplace to prevent injuries and increase your company’s bottom line. Work-Fit can help your company design and implement effective strategies for improving the safety of electrical workers. Our injury prevention program can generate important savings for your company by promoting a preventive care model that increases productivity rates and creates savings on employer healthcare costs.
If you are interested in improving the safety policies and protocols to protect your electrical worker´s health and your company’s bottom line, contact Work-Fit today to learn about how they can help your team.