Construction sites are prime locations for electrical hazards and fires are also quite common. This makes this industry one of the most dangerous when it comes to occupational hazards. Fires and electrical issues also threaten the lives of the general public and property around jobsites. However, electrical dangers are more common on sites that require heavy machinery.
Here is how you can reduce fatalities and/or injuries due to electrocutions in the workplace:
Prevent accidental contact with energized parts and create barriers:
Most sites have different work crews working at the same time as others. This increases chances of electrocutions but those can be reduced with 2 simple precautions.
The first thing they need to do is de-energize machine components that don’t need to be turned on for maintenance. The second is to ensure that workers have access to rubber mats and other conduits around the area.
Create and implement safety policies
One of the first things you need to do is to create a safety policy and put it in writing. Creating safety measures should be done as a team to ensure accuracy and effectiveness. Besides contractors who are in charge of lockout procedures, you should also talk to the director of safety before a job starts.
In addition, ensure that everything is documented once the project commences for future reference.
Determine energy control locations
Each and every worker on the job site should be aware of the location of energy controls on the construction site. These comprise of switches, plugs, valves among other energized components. Each of these should be clearly labeled in languages that work crew can understand immediately.
In addition, the labels should also indicate purpose and location and should be disconnected as per OSHA regulations.
Train your crew
A construction site is filled with electrical hazards that may not be obvious to the untrained. Besides workers who handle electrical tools and maintain/operate large machinery, other crew members should also be trained in safe electrical practices.
The training courses should be kept simple and should be updated regularly according to current safety regulations. Software, posters, films etc should be entertained as a means to keep workers informed about safe work practices.
To ensure that electrical shocks remain rare and to eliminate chances of fatalities, employers should adhere to OSHA electrical standards. This includes ensuring that GFCIs or ground fault circuit interrupters for all outlets are installed on site.
If that isn’t possible then at least one effective grounding system should be put in place to prevent electrocutions.
Lock and Tag
Using proper lockout and tagout tools is one of the best ways to reduce electrical shocks on a jobsite. As the name implies, employees have to lock or tag out from a power source during maintenance procedures. This prevents de-energeized equipment and tools from turning on accidentally.
One prime example of an effective log and tagout system is the use of a circuit breaker box during fan replacement.
Approved equipment should be used only
Only approved and appropriate equipment should be used to prevent accidental electrocutions when workers are working around energized components. Tools should also be properly insulated to stop electrical flow to keep them safe in case they touch a live wire accidentally.
Wear appropriate protective equipment
All workers on a jobsite should have access to appropriate protective gear to prevent electrocutions. This includes:
- Insulated head gear that can prevent contact with overhead wires
- Face and eye protection to reduce injuries during an explosion or explosive activities
- Insulated hand protection to reduce injuries during an arc explosion or while handling wires.
Insulated protective equipment will block current flow if a worker touches an energized component by accident. To mitigate injuries and to prevent fatalities, always keep an emergency contact list and first aid kit close at hand.
NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace 2017-18
Electricity can be dangerous in untrained hands and in a highly energized construction site, it can prove fatal. As an employer or worker, you need to be aware of the hazards so that you can mitigate the consequences. 360Training’s NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace covers electrical safety in work sites and NFPA 70E standards. Sign up today.