Many injuries, deaths and property damage caused by workplace electrical hazards can be avoided. The first step in avoiding these hazards begins with safety awareness. Before undertaking any type of electrical work, plan your job and include all necessary steps to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
For those experienced in working with electricity, these points can help remind you of basic electrical safety practices:
- Complete a detailed job plan and communicate it to all co-workers.
- Know safety requirements and follow them.
- Understand the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and the hazards involved.
- Identify all possible energy sources that could pose on-the-job hazards.
- Before working on or around electrical systems or equipment, identify the load circuits and disconnect. Remember, in some cases, turning power off may cause other hazards. Such hazards and additional guidance should be addressed in your work plan.
- Select the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Remember, PPE must be worn until the electrical system is in a safe condition.
- Never assume that the equipment or system is de-energized. Remember to always test before you touch.
- Use lock-out/tag-out procedures.
- Make sure your test equipment is working properly both before and after you use it.
- If at any time the job becomes more hazardous than you had anticipated, stop and revise the plans.
Facts and Statistics
- Electrical hazards cause more than 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries in the workplace each year.
- Electrical accidents rank sixth among all causes of work-related deaths in the United States.
- Electrical accidents on the job cause an average of 13 days away from work and nearly one fatality every day.
- Approximately 62 percent of an estimated 32,807 nonfatal electrical injuries occurring between 1992 and 1998 were classified as electric shock and 38 percent as electric burns.
- The nonfatal workplace incidents that cause the highest number of days away from work include contact with an electrical current or a machine, tool, appliance or light fixture (38 percent), and contact with wiring, transformers or other electrical components (33 percent).
- Nonfatal electrical injury occurs most often to those who work with machines or tools and around electrical wiring other than power lines.
- Over the last 10 years, more than 46,000 workers were injured from on-the-job electrical hazards.
- During the work day, a worker is hurt every 30 minutes so severely from electricity that it requires time off the job.