Electrical hazards are common in the workplace. Without proper interventions, it negatively impacts the health and safety of the employees.
It results in a decline in productivity and increase in accidents. At its worst, it can even lead to death. The company can be slapped with lawsuits, which can disrupt its operations and cripple its profitability.To prevent electrical hazards, it is important to have a proactive approach. Not to mention, it needs a financial investment. From personal protective equipment to employee training, advocating health and safety in the workplace requires both time and money. Keep on reading as we talk about some of the best things that businesses can do.
1. Train the Employees
This is one of the best practices when it comes to electrical safety at work. It all starts with information dissemination. Invest in employee training programs that let people know the hazards in the workplaces and the best measures to address the risks. This is especially important for those who are directly exposed and the most vulnerable employee groups. Safety training is a continuous process and not a one-time event. If possible, do this once a year to update the knowledge of the workers. Make training entertaining to engage the participants. Create a comprehensive training program with the help of experts in electrical safety specific to your industry.
2. Add Signs
While employee training plays a crucial role in the promotion of electrical safety, it is never enough. They need a constant reminder while they are at work, and the best thing to do this is to add signage in key places, especially where the hazard is. Voltage markers and electrical clearance signs are useful. A sticker with words like “Keep Out” and “Hazard” can also help to remind the workers of the electrical risks that are present. Make sure that signage is visible. It should be large and must have a bright color so that it can easily be seen. Otherwise, it is useless.
3. Appoint a Competent Supervisor
Despite its importance, a lot of companies tend to ignore this suggestion. A supervisor or safety officer is crucial in promoting a safety culture in the workplace. This is the person responsible for promoting the best practices. He or she will also have to make sure that everyone follows the safety protocols in place, and that those who break the rules will have to suffer the consequences. This person must be knowledgeable of the industry standards and should have the relevant background.
4. Know the Electrical Safety Codes and Standards
Knowledge is power. It will save companies a huge amount of money if they are knowledgeable of the best practices in their industry. More so, this also means knowing electrical safety codes and standards. The most important would be those mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Most of their requirements translate into strict laws. There are more than 20,000 codes and standards that are meant to reduce electric hazards. From choosing equipment to operating machinery, knowledge of these codes is important.
5. Create a Safety Audit
A good starting point for promoting electrical safety in the workplace is an audit of the current environment. This should be done by experts, including electricians. This entails the need to check all parts of the workplace, including the plugs, circuit breaker, and wires, among other electrical components. During the audit, all the vulnerabilities will be identified. This is an opportunity to point out the problems, and consequently, recommend the solutions that will work best. It should be properly documented. Depending on where your business operates, this can also be one of the most important compliance requirements.
6. Provide Personal Protective Equipment
When there are health risks in the workplace, it is crucial to invest in personal protective equipment. This is one of the minimum requirements to minimize the risks present, including electrical hazards. Wearing such should be mandatory. There should be safety personnel making sure that all employees adhere to such a policy. Also, the PPE must be comfortable enough. Otherwise, employees will resist wearing it and they might end up uncomfortable or unproductive in what they are doing.
From head to toe, employees must be wearing the right PPE. It should be non-conductive and flame-resistant. Especially for hand and arm protection, insulation is a must. Insulating blankets and mats are also important for the highest level of electrical protection. Non-conductive hard hats, insulated gloves, face shields, safety glasses, overalls, and shoes are some of the must-haves. Make sure to pay attention to the technical specifications, such as shock and arc rating, which will be indicative of the effectiveness of the PPE. Also, see to it that they have passed stringent tests and have been awarded the necessary certifications to be guaranteed that the PPE works.
7. Invest in the Right Equipment
A lot of businesses skimp on equipment, thinking that it is an excellent way to save money. While it might be true in the short-term, in the long run, you might end up wasting a lot of money. It can be prone to problems, and hence, you will need frequent repairs or equipment will quickly ask for a replacement. Worse, it can be an electrical safety hazard. To prevent the latter, you need to choose the right equipment. Choose those that have been tested and given safety certifications for your peace of mind. Look for equipment made by reliable manufacturers.
Aside from having the right equipment, it is also crucial to follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Read the manual and religiously follow the steps, especially the limitations and safety precautions. It is also important to connect the equipment directly to a plug. Avoid using an extension cord. If the latter is inevitable, find one with a wire thick enough to handle the electrical needs of whatever it is that is connected.
8. Prioritize Equipment Care and Maintenance
It is not enough to have top-notch equipment in the workplace. It is also important to pay attention to proper care. There should be a regular maintenance schedule depending on the needs of the machine. Someone must be responsible in making sure that such a schedule is met. Some even have stickers or labels, which will indicate the last time they have been checked. Proper maintenance also requiring the use of the right tools to fix the problem. These tools should also be properly maintained to demonstrate the best performance. Failure to maintain equipment will make it an electrical hazard. Not to mention, it can also result in premature wear and costly repair.
9. Install a GFCI Plug
GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. Basically a type of an electrical plug, and one of the most important in preventing electrical hazards in the workplace and interrupts or breaks the circuit when it detects that there is an imbalance in the incoming and outgoing current also inhibits overheating, and hence, it prevents fire caused by electrical problems. It disrupts the flow of current and protect the appliances as well. This is especially important when plugs are in areas with water or moisture. There is a reset button, which means that you can instantly restore the current flow in the plug after the interruption.
10. Unplug Appliances When Not Used
This is one of the simplest ways to prevent electrical hazards in the workplace but also one of the most ignored. How many times have you read about a fire that started from something plugged? It happens more often than what you can imagine! So, make sure that the appliances or equipment are unplugged when they are not used. This will prevent overheating, and hence, minimize fire risks. More so, this is also one of the best ways to reduce your electricity consumption in the workplace.
11. Mind the Position of Equipment
It is crucial to be logical when it comes to positioning equipment in the workplace. The emphasis should not only be on what improves productivity but also one what is safe. For instance, the plugs should be away from sources of water. Otherwise, there is an increased chance of an electric shock. The wires should not be spread on high-traffic areas. Or else, you are risking damage or accident. It can cause tripping, aside from electrical hazards. Do not position high-voltage equipment near flammable sources to minimize the possibility of starting a devastating fire.
12. Keep Wires Organized
Keeping the workplace clean and organized is another simple solution for the prevention of electrical hazards. When the wires are exposed, they are prone to wear. They can have structural problems, which can later become a safety hazard. It is important to keep them hidden so that they are protected. Do not run the wires on high-traffic areas, such as the lobby. Also, do not keep them under the carpet or similar materials that can spark easily. Using wire organizers is also a must. Avoid knotting and binding cables. If there is a damaged cord, it must be repaired immediately before it can pose a huge problem.
13. Hire a Licensed Electrician
For big businesses, it is a good idea to employ a full-time electrician. This means that someone will be immediately available to deal with an electrical problem. If you cannot afford to have one in-house, make sure to hire a qualified electrician every time there is an electrical problem. Do not be discouraged by the cost. It is costlier if you work with someone who isn’t licensed! A competent electrician can spare your company from the headache of having to deal with a worse electrical problem!
14. Avoid Overloading
One of the basic principles of using electricity is to not go beyond the specified load. So, make sure that your equipment will match the current that is provided in the workplace. If there is a mismatch, there is a high risk of an explosion, fire, or similar problems. Not to mention, the equipment may also fail to function as anticipated when it does not receive the right amount of power that it requires. This can end up compromising business processes.
15. Consider Substitution
Earlier, we talked about the importance of having a safety audit. This is also an opportunity to identify high-risk processes and equipment. From here, you can identify the potential alternatives. For instance, rather than using a high-voltage equipment with a higher risk of starting an electrical hazard, consider substituting a lower voltage and safer machine without compromising the outcomes.
16. Act Immediately
A common mistake a lot of people commit is to act when it is too late. That should never be the case. In some situations, you can prevent expensive repairs and devastating consequences if you act as soon as a problem is spotted. For instance, as soon as the light flickers, do not be complacent and think of it as an ordinary occurrence. Always assume the worst. Have it checked immediately, and if warranted, replace the light or correct the wiring.
17. Prepare for the Worst
At the end of the day, you should prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario. Keep an open mind, even if you do not want bad things to happen. The more important thing is to demonstrate your preparedness in the most unfortunate of situations. One of the basics is the installation of fire extinguishers and sprinklers, which will easily put out flames before it spreads. Putting signs to emergency exits will also help to direct people to the right way when there is fire. There should also be a contingency plan, which will prevent any incident from disrupting the normal flow of business.
In sum, prevention is better than cure. So, it is important to have a proactive approach in managing electrical hazards. Consider our suggestions above to minimize the electrical risks that can confront workers, customers, and the public. Doing these things can help improve productivity and profitability while also ensuring the highest level of compliance!