We will be discussing the electrical accidents in the workplace. Our workplaces are flooded with so many hazards which could result in accidents; one of the accident is the electrical accident. At the end of this article, you will understand what electrical accidents are, examples of electrical accidents and how they could be prevented.
Lets consider what electrical accidents are;
What Is Electrical Accidents
Electrical accident is said to be an unplanned, unwanted and undesired event which could result to injury to person or damage to property.
The only significant different between electrical accident and other forms of accident is that in electrical accident the culprit is electric current.
Electrical accidents are far more common than you might think. According to the UK’s Electrical Safety First, around 19,300 domestic fires with an electrical cause occur in the UK every year. These fires can be caused by anything from faulty leads to misuse of appliances. So, it’s important to know what causes electrical accidents and what you can do to prevent them.
Causes of Electrical Accident
According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are 12 common causes of electrical accidents that happen while equipment is being maintained:
- Unsafe system of work
- Inadequate information
- No training
- Inadequate isolation
- Unsafe rules
- Poor control of work activities
- Live working
- Unsuitable test equipment
- Poor maintenance
- Failure to manage work
- Person not competent
- Uninsulated electrical wiring
Electrical Accidents In The Workplace
Electrical accidents in the workplace can pose serious risks to both individuals and property, so it is important to be aware of potential hazards and take preventive measures to ensure a safe working environment.
Here are some electrical accident in the workplace:
1. Electric Shock:
Electric shock is a physiological reaction caused by the passage of an electric current through the body. When the human body becomes part of an electrical circuit, the electric current flows through tissues, nerves, and muscles, potentially causing various effects. The severity of an electric shock depends on several factors, including the amount of current, the pathway it takes through the body, and the duration of the exposure.
Some factors affect how serious an electric shock is, including:
- Length of time in contact with the source
- Overall health
- Electricity’s path through your body
- Type of current (an alternating current is often more harmful than a direct current because it causes muscle spasms that make it harder to drop the source of electricity)
2. Arc Flash:
Arc flash is a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to ground. The results are often violent and when a human is in close proximity to the arc flash, serious injury and even death can occur. This can also result in an explosion, intense heat, and flying debris.
3. Electrical Fires:
Electrical fires occurs due to ignitions coming from overheating, malfunctioning, or damaged electrical components, equipment, or wiring. This fire can compromise the safety of residential, commercial, and industrial settings because of its potential to spread rapidly and cause extensive damage to lives and properties.
4. Electrical Burns:
An electrical burn is a skin burn that happens when electricity comes in contact with your body. When electricity comes in contact with your body, it can travel through your body. When this happens, the electricity can damage tissues and organs.
An electrical explosion is the sudden release of energy due to a short circuit between power phases or a phase to ground. It is important to realize that a very large amount of energy is available on the bus of most electrical panels when they are operating within their normal design parameters.
6. Electromagnetic Radiation Exposure:
Electromagnetic radiation exposure refers to the presence of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by electronic devices and power sources, encompassing a spectrum from low-frequency radio waves to high-frequency X-rays. Prolonged exposure to these fields may pose potential health risks. Common sources include power lines, electrical appliances, and wireless communication devices.
Health concerns range from minor effects like heat generation to potential long-term impacts on biological tissues. Adequate safety measures, such as maintaining safe distances, using shielding, and adhering to established exposure limits, are crucial in mitigating potential health hazards associated with electromagnetic radiation.
7. Electrical Overheating:
Electrical overheating is a condition in which electrical equipment or components experience an excessive rise in temperature beyond their designed operating limits. This can lead to various issues, including equipment malfunction, insulation breakdown, fires, and other safety hazards, making it a potential electrical accident.
8. Electricity-Induced Falls:
Electricity-induced falls occur when individuals trip or stumble due to electrical-related hazards, posing a risk of injury. Common causes include tripping over electrical cords, uneven surfaces near electrical equipment, or obstacles in poorly lit areas. Falls can result in various injuries, from minor bruises to severe fractures.
To prevent electricity-induced falls, it is essential to ensure proper cable management, maintain clear pathways around electrical installations, and implement adequate lighting in workspaces. Employee awareness and training on electrical safety contribute to a safer environment, reducing the likelihood of falls associated with electrical hazards.
Electrocution is a severe electrical accident that results in a person’s death due to exposure to electric shock. When an individual comes into contact with an electric current, the current passes through the body, disrupting the normal functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Electrocution can occur in various scenarios, including faulty wiring, contact with live electrical equipment, or unsafe work practices. The severity of electrocution depends on factors such as voltage, current, and the duration of exposure. To prevent electrocution, it is crucial to implement stringent safety measures, conduct regular equipment inspections, and provide proper training on electrical hazards and safe work practices.
Regulations and Standards Relating to Electricity
There are many regulations and standards that address working safely around electricity. The information in this course is based on key OSHA regulations and the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.
Below are some of the most important regulations and what it addresses:
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910, Subpart I: Personal Protective Equipment. Section 1910.137
specifically addresses electrical protective devices.
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910, Subpart P: Safe operation of hand and portable powered tools and
other hand-held equipment.
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910, Subpart S: Electrical safety requirements necessary for the practical
safeguarding of employees in the workplace.
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147: Lockout/tagout procedures. Describes how to service or
maintain equipment that might unexpectedly energize.
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.333: Lockout/tagout procedures. Describes how to service or
maintain energized circuits.
To prevent these accidents, workplaces should implement strict safety protocols like LOTO, provide proper training, regularly inspect and maintain electrical equipment, and ensure compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations. Additionally, personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used, and employees should be encouraged to report and address any potential electrical hazards promptly.
How to Avoid Electrical Accidents at Work
There are a number of measures employers (and employees) can take to minimise the risk of electrical accidents at work.
The Health and Safety Executive recommends a series of simple precautions, which includes:
- Performing a risk assessment for the work you are planning and any potential electrical hazards involved
- Identifying where it is safe to work and putting up danger signs to highlight unsafe areas
- Making sure that employees are adequately trained to use electrical equipment and machinery
- Ensuring that electrical equipment is properly maintained and regularly checked before use