Most of us understand the hazards of electricity but in workplaces where electrical hazards are hidden inside boxes and panels, the dangers can often be overlooked. Electrical occupational hazard standards as per OSHA were created to reduce risks of electrocutions, burns, explosions, fires, and other hazards around those units.
An electrical shock occurs when skin comes in contact with one end of a live circuit and becomes part of it so to speak. It can also occur if the body touches an exposed wire on the ground or anything metallic that has become energized by contact with a conductor.
The severity of the electrocution depends on:
- How long the body is exposed to the current
- The amount of current
- The pathway the current took through the body
- Whether the skin was dry or wet – current flows easily under wet conditions.
If the current flows through the chest cavity right to the brain, it can prove fatal. It can also stop the heart from beating, and can even result in respiratory failure. At most, the human body can withstand 1 mA of current.
Any more than that and it can lead to tissue damage or fibrillation. Currents that are 100 mPa or more can cause death if they pass through sensitive areas of the body. A current ‘freezes’ the body by making the muscles spasm out of control, thus rendering the victim immobile and incapable of moving away from the source of the current.
In fact, people who are electrocuted might even tighten their grip on the object itself as they lose control over their bodies. This gives the current a continuous and persistent path resulting in extensive, and often fatal, damage. Currents that are over 75 mA can cause ventricular fibrillation unless a defibrillator is used to save the victim. Heart arrest can occur at 4 amps while tissue starts to burn at 5 amps.
Electrical burns are the result of the body giving off heat as it is electrocuted since it is a resistant material. However, muscle structure also determines the severity of the burn and the damage it causes. Victims who have less muscle tissue, for instance, can be electrocuted by low volts while those who have more muscle may not get injured at all.
Most of the abovementioned electrical accidents can be prevented with proper training. However, effective safety measures must also be set in place to ensure employees remain safe from accidental electrocutions. Click To Tweet
Most of the abovementioned electrical accidents can be prevented with proper training. However, effective safety measures must also be set in place to ensure employees remain safe from accidental electrocutions. This includes the implementation of proper lockout / tag out procedures and other safety measures.
Some of the basic safety procedures employees can be trained to follow include:
- Shutting down electrical equipment before maintenance procedures
- Ensuring each machine is de-energized via a lockout / tag out procedure
- Encouraging the use of insulated PPE or Personal Protective Equipment
- Maintaining a safe distance from energized machinery or equipment
Every worker should be aware of safety precautions regarding electrical work whether they are involved with it directly or not. Some of the ways non-electrical workers can be exposed to electrical hazards include:
- Penetration of metal and drywall in walls and ceilings
- Core-boring activities on concrete walls and floors
- Seismic anchoring in flooring and walls
- Working at elevated heights near exposed electrical hazards such as abandoned circuits and uncovered electrical boxes
Non-electrical personnel are often overlooked when employers are looking into electrical training for qualified workers. Since many employees are not involved in repairs and installations of electrical systems, they are – to their detriment – usually unaware of the dangers.
General Safety Training courses from 360Training
A comprehensive safety training program that takes general workers into account as well can fill that knowledge gap. 360Training’s General Safety Training courses cover a range of safety issues in the workplace, and suggest solutions to mitigate risks. Using them, employers and HR personnel can create electrical safety training courses that can prevent electrocutions in the workplace for both electrical and non-electrical workers.
For example, the Electrical Safety Training Course is designed to give students a basic understanding of the prevention and elimination of work-related injuries that result from electrocutions. This includes an understanding of electrical hazards that are common in the workplace, and the types of injuries that can result from contact with electricity.