Electricity is everywhere. It powers our buildings, heats and cools our houses, drives cars and trains, runs appliances in the kitchen. And most importantly of all, it keeps us alive - in a way. But this invisible force can be dangerous if you don't know how to use it properly.
What are the dangers of electricity? Most people think about getting electrocuted by coming into contact with downed power lines or an exposed wire carrying high voltage current. However, there are many other hazards associated with working near live wires which could cause death or serious injuries such as arc flash (a sudden burst of intense heat from a nearby electrical source), electric shock, electrocution, burns, and explosions. This article will cover how you can stay safe when working with electricity.
Perform a Risk Assessment
In order to work safely with electricity, you should perform a risk assessment. A risk assessment can help you identify dangers, hazards, and risks in your work. It should also tell you how to fix the danger or deal with the hazard to make it safer for you and other people who will be around electricity (such as your family). To perform a risk assessment, you should ask yourself these five questions:
What could happen if a person received an electric shock? What would happen if someone was electrocuted? What other things can or could create risks for me when I am working with electricity? How might the weather conditions affect my work with electricity? What other safety considerations can I think of?
It can be hard to stay focused when you are working with electricity because the power source will always call your attention. To help avoid accidents, you should try to minimize distractions. You can also mitigate risk by using up-to-date tools, equipment, and safety gear. When working in a crowded environment, try and label cables to help people differentiate hot wire from neutral wire. Get all of your equipment tested before you start working with electricity, including anything that will prevent distractions or accidents from happening.
Identify the Hazards
Once you have performed a risk assessment, it is time to identify any hazards. You can do this by going through the list of risks that you brainstormed during your risk assessment, along with anything else that may be dangerous. These hazards should help you figure out what type of protection you need from them, and whether or not you need to prepare for them.
For example, if the electricity will pass through the water when you are working on it, then you are very likely to be at risk of electric shock. You might want to wear rubber gloves and boots that will keep electricity from passing through your body.
One way to be safer when working with electricity is to restrict access. One of the most common ways you can do this is by using a circuit breaker or a switch. For example, you might want to turn off the power and remove all power cords so that no one can touch or work with the electricity without your help. You might also want to cover any exposed wires, lock away anything that could cause damage if touched, and put up signs warning people not to enter the area where you are working with electricity.
If there are other people around who could get hurt if they saw or touched something dangerous while you are working on the electricity, then you should ask them to stay out of the area until you finish what you need to do. If this is not possible, then you should prepare for anything that could happen by looking for dangers that others may overlook and using safety equipment to protect yourself from injury.
Always wear Personal Protective Equipment
Another way that you can stay safe when you are working with electricity is to always wear personal protective equipment. This has been highlighted in some of the points mentioned above but reiterating it is important. You should make sure that all of your equipment is up-to-date, and never go without any type of safety gear. If an accident does happen, then it will protect both yourself and others who might be around.
Your personal protective equipment should include things like rubber gloves that will keep electricity from passing through your body, rubber boots that will keep electricity from passing through your feet, and safety goggles to protect your eyes.
Are You Familiar With the Codes (National Electric Code)?
The National Electric Code is a set of rules that are designed to stop you from doing something stupid. These codes are split into sections, including NFPA 70 (National Electrical Safety Code) and NFPA 70E (Recommended Practice for Electrical Safety in the Workplace).
Before you work with electricity, make sure you check what type of codes are required in your area. It is unlikely that you will be able to do anything without them, but they may change depending on your location, the group that is working with you, and what type of work you are doing.
If everyone knows about these codes then they can also help prevent accidents from happening by not instructing workers to do something that does not comply. Knowing the codes is especially useful when you work with a group of people who need to approve what you are doing before you can continue, such as city officials or HR.
If you are working on a project, then you will most likely need to get insurance for yourself and your equipment. It is important that this insurance covers the type of work that you do because if not, then it may not pay out in case of an accident. For example, you might need employer's liability insurance when employees work with electricity, which covers you if an accident happens.
You don't need to get insurance if you are building a small thing like a birdhouse, but you should think about getting it if the project is medium-sized or larger. You should also consider getting insurance if someone else is funding what you are doing because this will prevent them from being liable for any accidents that might happen. Most homeowners insurance policies will not protect you if something happens to a person who is visiting your property, so it would be wise for them to have their own policy as well.
Electricity is a powerful force. It can create life-saving devices and destroy homes with the flick of a switch, all in an instant. The good news is that there are ways to work safely with electricity--both for homeowners and professionals alike. The tips listed here would help keep you safe while you work.