Electrical Hazards and Safety Measures – Workplace Safety

Electrical Hazards – Safe Work Practices

Electrical Hazards and Safety Measures

It is not necessary to express that electricity has been so essential for all the aspects of life and one cannot imagine living without it. You are at home, at an office, on the road or anywhere on planet earth, you are knotted with electricity at every step of life. You need electricity at work or when taking rest, making food or doing anything. From operation theatre to simplest of medication everything heavily depends on electricity. Some of us who are electricians, engineers, electronic technicians, linemen etc. deal directly with electricity on a daily basis while others work with electricity indirectly. Due to too much intrusion of electricity into our lives, we merely incline to understand the hazards electricity possess to us, thus, we get exposed to electrical hazards very often.

Stats from HSE UK show that every year about 1000 accidents at the workplace are reported involving electric shocks and electric burns. Around 30 of these accidents are fatal. According to the Electrical Safety First Organisation, the UK, around 54.4% of fires in only England are caused by electricity. During 2015-2016 total of 28350 fires were reported out of which 15432 fires were due to electricity. These electric fires caused around 1380 fatalities and severe injuries. According to OSHA, in 1999, 278 workers died from electrocution accounting for almost 5 percent of all on-the-job fatalities that year. Stats show that only electrical hazards cause more than 300 deaths and more than 4000 injuries at workplace each year. So, it is very important, especially at work, to carefully identify and examine the electrical hazards and implement all the necessary controls to avoid consequences of exposure to electrical hazards.

Electrical Hazard: An electrical hazard is a dangerous condition where a worker can or does make electrical contact with energized equipment or a conductor. From that contact, the person may sustain an injury from shock, and there is a potential for the worker to receive an arc flash (electrical explosion) burn, thermal burn or blast injury.

Electrical injuries: there are two ways to get injured directly by electricity.

Electric shock: It is the passing of electric current through the body. Electrical contact can cause involuntary physical movements. The electrical current may do the following:

Arc Flash: It is a release of energy caused by an electric arc. The flash causes an explosive expansion of air and metal. The blast produces:

A dangerous pressure wave

Extreme light

The flow of electricity: Electricity flows easily through the materials which offer very little resistance to electric current. Such materials are called conductors like metals. Some materials offer very high resistance to flow of electric current. Such materials are called insulators like plastic, dry wood, glass etc. Even air, normally an insulator, can become a conductor, as occurs during an arc or lightning stroke.

Effect of water on the flow of electricity: Water in purest form is an insulator but very small amount of impurities like salt, acid, solvents, or other materials make water itself and substances that generally act as insulators into conductors or better conductors. Dry wood, for example, generally slows or stops the flow of electricity. But when saturated with water, wood turns into a conductor. The same is true of human skin. Dry skin has fairly high resistance to electricity but when skin is moist or wet, it offers very little resistance to current. So working with electricity in the wet environment makes conditions too worst. This means while working in a moist or wet environment one must exercise extra caution to prevent electrical hazards.

Many organizations bear heavy damages and costs each year just because of their failure to treat electrical hazards with the deference they deserve. These hazards are continuously exposing employees to electric shock, electrocution, burns, fires, and explosions, while most of these injuries and fatalities are easily avoidable.

Working safely with electricity


Generators are commonly used as a replacement source of electricity when electrical power is lost. Overloading, poor maintenance, and misuse of the generator are conditions which increase the chances of electrical hazard to cause harm. You should always adopt best practices when operating generators.

Power lines:

Overhead and buried power lines are especially hazardous because they carry dangerously high voltage. Fatal electrocution is the main risk, but burns and falls are also hazards. Knowing your limits and applying the best electrical safety practices can help reduce the risk of electrical shock and death. It is safer to work within your scope of expertise instead of taking the risk of working beyond your capacity. If you are not confident to do the job, don’t hesitate to call for help from an authorized person. Also, instead of relying on your memory, use a checklist when applying electrical safety practices in your workplace.

Extension Cords:

Electrical appliances need electrical power and most common and convenient way to power them is the use of extension cords. Similarly, many tools and piece of equipment are attached with extension cords. Where these cords are providing so much ease and benefit in supplying power wherever it is needed, they are also the most hazardous and misused piece of equipment. Their misuse is one of the most common causes of electrical fires, electric shocks, and other injuries. According to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Protection Association, each year electric extension cords account for:

These injury and property damage statistics can be avoided through the use of some fairly basic safety practices when using electrical extension cords. Key safety practices include:


Electrical equipment, in different industries, come from dynamic range and rugged nature of different works like construction work, make wear and tear in insulations of electrical equipment. These equipment lead to short-circuits and exposed wires. The absence of electrical protection systems like ground-fault protection may cause severe consequences. Taking some basic safety precautions and adopting best practices can avoid any unwanted incidents. It is recommended to Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) on all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles that are not on an existing building’s permanent wiring, or have an
assured equipment grounding conductor program (AEGCP). Some good practices to work safely with electrical equipment are given below:

Electricity is a hidden enemy which will not let you escape easily if it held you. Be remembered if your power supply to the electrical equipment is not properly grounded, fault current may travel through your body, causing electrical burns or death. Always spare some time to visually inspect your electrical equipment before every use. Never hesitate to take any defective equipment out of service immediately. Concluding the argument, always:

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