Electrical safety shouldn’t be overlooked since it can cost you your employees’ lives. Electrical accidents are more common in offices and workplaces than you would think. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year 76,000 offices nationwide have disabling injuries, and a significant percentage of these injuries is attributed to electrical faults or accidents.
With different electrical machines and products being used in the office, the potential for electrical accidents increases. It can cause serious shocks, burns, or even death. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure electrical safety at work. It is recommended to use correct Electrical Materials & Products according to requirements and guidelines. Read on to know more.
Common Electrical Hazards in the Workplace
• Circuit Overloading
If you plug in too many devices into a circuit, the current flowing through the circuit will heat the wires to a high temperature. This may, in turn, cause a fire.
If the insulation of the wire melts, there is a possibility of arcing which could lead to a fire where the overload exists.
A circuit breaker would prevent a fire or equipment damage when the circuit overloads.
• Damaged Wiring and Equipment
Remove damaged and non-functioning wires immediately as they pose serious electrical risks. If you see any frayed, exposed, or loose wire, replace them. Attend to damaged equipment and tools as well.
• Water Spill On/Near Electrical Devices
Never operate electrical equipment if it is in contact with or close to water. It increases the risk of electrocution, especially if the equipment’s insulation is damaged.
If you have to handle such equipment for any reason, switch off the main power connection and unplug all the wet or damp equipment. Call in a certified electrician to check whether the equipment is safe to operate or not. Once all the safety checks are done, you can switch on the equipment.
• Improper Grounding
If the equipment is not grounded properly, there will be a risk of electrocution.
• Unsafe Electrical Cords
Ensure you install the electrical cords and different types of wires properly and safely. They should be located within or along the walls. There should be no loose wires or electrical cords running through high-traffic areas, across doorways, or under carpets as it can result in tripping or accidents.
• Loose Fitting Plugs
All the electrical equipment should firmly fit in the socket. Loose-fitting plugs can cause the equipment to overheat and catch fire. Conduct physical checks of all the sockets periodically.
10 Tips to Ensure Electrical Safety at Workplaces
1. Follow General Safety Precautions
First things first, follow the instructions that are issued by your company supervisors and the equipment safety manuals. Familiarize yourself with specific safety regulationsand standardsof your office. For example, one of the most basic rules is to ensure your hands are dry before handling any electrical equipment. You must conduct electrical safety training for your employees.
2. Choose the Right Equipment
Use only those electricaltools and equipment that are certified and safe. Never leave the equipment unattended and discontinue using damaged equipment. Never try to repair damaged equipment on your own. Choose non-conductive equipment to be on the safe side.
3. Handle Cords Cautiously
Inspect all the cords and cables of the office equipment regularly for cracks, frays, or any kind of damage. They must be plugged snugly and don’t rely too much on extension cords as they are temporary solutions.
Always use the right cords, secure them with tapes, and ensure they are plugged in properly. Do not jerk on the cord while unplugging and never mess with the cord or the outlet.
4. Fix Damaged Outlets
Enclose all the outlets with stable plates to encase the wiring safely and block the unused outlets. Test each circuit before touching it. Ensure your staff does not overload the circuits or insert anything into the outlet.
5. Check for damaged insulation and exposed electrical parts of devices
Inadequate or damaged insulation in wirings can cause the current to leak which may result in electrocution. Hence it shouldn’t be overlooked at any cost. As soon as you notice exposed wires, turn the power off and cover the wiring with electrical tape. Moreover, ensure that electrical parts and outlets are properly covered or secured using guarding mechanisms to prevent shocks.
6. Safely Handle Light Bulbs
The bulbs you use in the office must be of proper wattage to avoid overheating. Screw them tightly and always switch off the fixture before replacing a bulb.
7. Understand How to Prevent Electrical Fire Hazards
Be aware of the different conditions that can lead to electrical fire hazards. For example, ensure your employees never overload the plugs, sockets, or extension cords. If any tool or equipment is giving off mild shocks, replace it along with all damaged cords.
Do not try to conduct any electrical repairs on your own and always call the professionals. Here are some electrical safety tips that you need to follow to Prevent Workplace Fire Hazards:
• Unplug the equipment or interrupt the power immediately from the main switch if it ignites.
• In case there is a fire hazard, never use water to put it out. Always use a fire extinguisher.
• Ensure your staff knows all the exit points in case the fire gets out of hand.
• Separate combustible objects from heaters
• Keep an eye out on the circuit breakers – if they keep tripping after you’ve reset it, it indicates a fire hazard.
8. Use Electrical Safety Equipment
Use electrical safety equipment like circuit breakers, fuses, GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter), and AFCI to protect you from electrical hazards. These safety equipment prevent the flow of excessive current or arcing conditions that can lead to electrical fires, shocks, or damage to the equipment.
9. Introduce safety programs for your employees
Sometimes, even when there are no electrical faults in the workplace, the employees can give way to one. So, introduce electrical safety programs to educate them about the potential risks. You can have basic electrician courses as part of the safety training so that your employees have a basic understanding of what can trigger an electrical hazard. This will help them spot risks and report them proactively.
Moreover, you can also ensure that the employees stay alert by putting up tags, labels, safety signs, etc. on wires, electrical devices, and areas that pose a risk to the employees. This technique works very well if the signs are clearly visible and easy to understand.
10. Perform audits on a regular basis
Don’t wait for an accident to start practicing preventive measures. Conduct a detailed audit every 6 months or a year to ensure that everything is operating smoothly. Create a checklist of the risky areas that need to be monitored and use that for inspection. You can easily find a readymade checklist online which you can download and customize according to your specific requirements.
Electrical safety isn’t a one-day task. It should be continuously improved because even if you have been extremely careful and proactive, there are always ways that you can improvise. So, record all the safety measures and their performance and look for areas where you can do better. Conduct timely maintenance of all electrical equipment to avoid electrical hazards. If you want to protect your workers, educate them about electrical safety. Lastly, keep your office safe and free of electrical hazards.
Jeson Pitt works with the marketing department of D & F Liquidators in Hayward, CA and regularly writes to share his knowledge while enlightening people about electrical products and solving their electrical dilemmas. He’s got the industry insights that you can count on along with years of experience in the field. Jeson lives in Hayward, CA and loves to explore different cuisines that the food trucks in the Bay area have to offer.