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Electrical Safety In The Workplace

Electrical Safety in the Workplace – Health and safety are one of the most important administrative concerns a workplace can have. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,764 fatal injuries occurred in workplaces across the nation in 2020 alone – a number that was lower than previous figures owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

One common source of risk in workplaces is electrical risk; every office, plant, and workshop has electrical items in them, that employees use daily. How can you ensure electrical safety in your own business?

Damaged Equipment

The most obvious safety risk is presented by the various devices and appliances on which your business relies on a day-to-day basis. Any device malfunctions could result in shorting or areas of the chassis becoming ‘live’.

While not a legal requirement for the vast majority of businesses in the US, portable appliance testing (or PAT testing for short) can be a comprehensive and reliable way to ensure that all devices on-premises are working as intended. Items that fail a PAT test may not be safe to remain in regular use.

Loose and Exposed Cables

But the equipment itself isn’t the only point of failure where the risk of electrical injury can be found. The various wires and cables that connect devices to power and one another can also pose a serious risk, if not properly managed on-site. 

READ: Electrical Safety & Portable Electrical Equipment Checklist

For pre-existing appliances and simple cable arrays, as with those required to properly hook up a computer or data terminal, cable racking and wire ducts can be used to keep power and data cables off the ground – minimizing trip risk and also preserving their integrity for longer. 

For more bespoke electrical arrangements, as with unique power supply designs and in-house engineering projects, wires and cables should be correctly terminated and neatly arranged; cable ties group sets of cables together effectively, while heat shrink boots can split wires off at terminating points without risking shorted connections.

Environmental Hazards

Otherwise-safe equipment can also become unsafe, as a result of environmental hazards or changes. One of the leading dangers in this regard is water spillage or damage, which can short-circuit appliances and arc mains electricity.

As such, specific safety measures should be taken around areas with access to water – whether bathrooms, kitchenettes, or watercoolers. Waterproof coverings could be used for cable runs, while the use of outlets close to water sources could be limited to maintenance staff only.

Employee Habits

Lastly, it is important to recognize the active role that your business’ staff can have in ensuring overall electrical safety. There are some general safety tips that individuals should be following at home as well as at the office, which should be enforced as a policy.

READ: GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Electrical Safety Concept

For example, employees may be tempted to over-rely on extension cords for the sake of convenience – leading to unsafe levels of current draw from a given outlet.  Employees should be instructed not to overcrowd outlets.

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