Posted On: June 20, 2024

5 Most Common Electrical Hazards (And How To Avoid Them)

Electricity is a vital force in our modern lives, powering everything from our homes to our workplaces. But like any powerful tool, it needs to be handled with respect and caution. Unfortunately, electrical hazards are more common than we think, posing a dangerous threat to safety and well-being. This article aims to detail the most common electrical hazards to be aware of and how to mitigate the risks.

Top 5 Most Common Electrical Hazards

According to OSHA, electrocution is one of the most common construction hazards. Identifying electrical hazards can improve understanding of the dangers, their severity, and the harm that electricity can cause to employees. Here are five of the most common electrical hazards in the workplace, as well as recommendations for mitigating them:

Overhead Power Lines

Overhead-powered and energized electrical lines carry high voltages that can cause severe burns and electrocution in workers. Remember to keep at least 10 feet from electrical wires and other equipment. Conduct site surveys to verify that nothing is kept beneath overhead power lines. Install safety barriers and signage to notify workers about the risks in the region.

Damaged Tools and Equipment

Avoid using damaged electrical equipment, such as power tools, until they are certified and fixed by a qualified individual. Do not attempt to repair or fix anything without proper training. Check for cracks, cuts, and abrasions on cables, wires, and cords. If found, label the equipment as defective and take it out of service. Lockout/tagout procedures should be in place before starting electrical maintenance and repairs.

Inadequate Wiring and Overloaded Circuits

To prevent overheating and fires in electrical equipment, use appropriate wires and extension cords for the operation and electrical load. Avoid overloading outlets with outlet adaptors or extension leads, and never plug one extension cord into another. Regular fire risk assessments can help identify areas at risk of bad wiring or circuits. Always use the correct extension cord for heavy-duty use and avoid overloading outlets or extension leads.


Electrical cords on equipment contain insulated live wires, which can be exposed if frayed or cracked. Damaged cables should be reported and repaired by a qualified person, not temporarily fixed with tape. Offices often have multiple extension leads and adapters, resulting in a mess of cables and plugs. An individual power socket should provide electricity to a single item, such as a computer monitor or printer. To power multiple appliances from a single socket, use a fused, multi-way bar extension lead with surge protection instead of a basic block adapter.

Improper Grounding

Improper equipment grounding is the most frequent electrical OSHA violation. Electrocution hazards can be reduced, and unwanted voltage can be eliminated with proper grounding. Never remove a plug's metallic ground pin, as it is responsible for returning unwanted electricity to the ground. Every electrical appliance and device has to be grounded. You run the risk of electrocution if you don't. Ensure that electrical equipment is certified and inspected on a regular basis by a trained and competent person.

Wet Conditions

Electrical equipment should not be operated in wet locations without proper training and personal protective equipment. Water increases the risk of electrocution, especially if the equipment has damaged insulation. If the equipment gets wet, a qualified electrician should inspect it before use, as water can significantly increase the risk.

How to Prevent Electrical Hazards

It's more than obvious that electricity poses a significant workplace hazard. OSHA's standards aim to protect employees from electric shock and electrocution. Without ground-fault protection, current can send current through a worker, causing injuries and fatalities. Even with proper grounding, extreme conditions and rough treatment can cause equipment to change from safe to hazardous. To reduce electrical hazards:

  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) or implement an assured equipment grounding conductor program (AEGCP).
  • Ground all power supply systems, electrical circuits, and electrical devices.
  • Regularly examine electrical systems to ensure that the path to earth is continuous.
  • Ground prongs should not be removed from cord- and plug-connected devices or extension cables.
  • Use double-insulated tools and equipment that are clearly marked, and grind any exposed metal elements of the equipment.
  • Before using any electrical equipment, conduct a visual inspection. Remove from service any equipment with frayed cables, missing ground prongs, broken tool cases, and so on.
  • Avoid standing in damp locations when utilizing portable electrical power tools.

To reduce the risk of electric shock and death, it's crucial to understand your limitations and follow the best electrical safety procedures. If you're unsure about your abilities, seek help from a competent person. Use checklists instead of relying on memory, as they are an effective tool for ensuring safety when working with or near electrical equipment threats.

Get Trained and Certified Today

Investing in online electrical safety training courses can significantly enhance your knowledge and equip you with the necessary skills to handle electrical situations safely. Our NFPA 70E Electrical Safety Training covers important topics such as arc flash risks, prevention strategies, and appropriate response to coworker injuries. Get started with 360training today!

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