Top 5 Leading Electrical Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Electrocution is one of the top leading causes of death in the construction industry. Electrical hazards cause more than 300 deaths and 4000 injuries per year among the U.S. workforce. It is the sixth top cause of workplace deaths in America. This blog will go over the top 5 leading electrical hazards and how to avoid them.

Electrical Hazards

Electricity is one of the topmost known hazards recognized by people; however, why do so many people die from it anyway? Perhaps electricity is so common that we no longer pay much attention to it. Whatever the reason is, it is essential that we educate people on this hazard and how to avoid it. The following are the top five leading causes of injuries from electrical hazards and some advice on how to avoid them:

1. Contact with Power Lines

Buried and overhead power lines can carry exceedingly high voltage, sometimes even exceeding 700,000 volts. Although electrocution is the main hazard, severe burns and falling from heights are also a factor. The typical scenario is a piece of equipment that a worker is using, which can be a crane or a ladder, making contact with a power line, thus shocking the worker.

How to Avoid this Hazard

  • When working outdoors, remember to keep in mind the placement of power lines.
  • Be observant and attentive
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines at all times. Observe this same distance with the equipment in use
  • Ensure that no digging is undertaken without first checking for underground power lines. Check for signs or contact your utility company to confirm it’s safe to dig
  • If work must be done near a power line, contact the utility company first. It may be possible to de-energize the line or come up with a guard to increase worker safety.

Top 5 Leading Electrical Hazards and How to Avoid Them

2. No Ground-Fault Protection

A ground fault is caused by faulty power tools, damaged wiring, or old appliances allowing electricity to take an unplanned path to the ground. It is an electrical hazard often created due to excessive wear on power tools and equipment. This can cause breaks in insulation and exposed wire. Without ground-fault protection, contact can shock the worker.

How to Avoid this Hazard

  • Make it a routine to check your equipment and power tools prior to use
  • Place a warning tag on any equipment that is faulty and remove it once it’s fixed

Top 5 Leading Electrical Hazards and How to Avoid Them

3. Pass to Ground Is Missing or Discontinuous

This takes place when the power supply for electrical equipment is not grounded properly or the path is broken. This could even happen with good equipment due to rough treatment of the equipment of extreme work conditions. For example, a broken electrical cord can cause a lack of proper grounding.

How to Avoid this Hazard?

  • Be sure to ground all power supply systems, electrical equipment, and electrical circuits
  • Frequently inspect electrical systems to ensure that the path to the ground is continuous
  • Never remove ground prong from extension cords or power cords. Use double-insulated tools and equipment

4. Equipment not Used in Manner Prescribed

Many times, workers use tools or equipment for purposes that it wasn’t meant for. Doing so, can damage the equipment, and most importantly, endanger oneself or other workers.

How to Avoid this Hazard

  • Always use equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Never modify equipment or cords in any way
  • Use equipment approved by regulatory safety agencies such as OSHA

5. Improper Use of Extension or Flexible Cords

Wear and tear are normal with electrical cords that are in normal use. This can cause wires to loosen and become exposed, thus causing an electrical hazard. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, electric extension cords account for over 4,500 residential fires each year, killing and injuring around 300 people.

How to Avoid this Hazard?

  • Only use cord sets that are factory-assembled
  • Only use three-wire extension cords
  • Use extension cord for proper use
  • Remove the cord from the reciprocal by pulling on the plugs, NOT the cord
  • Regularly check all flexible and extension cords for damage

PPE for Electrical Hazards

Wearing the proper personal protective equipment can protect or reduce the electrical hazard from injuring you. Depending on the job task to be performed, PPE for the electric power industry generally includes insulating (rubber) gloves, safety glasses, leather protectors, face shields, safety shoes, hard hats, insulating sleeves, and flame-resistant clothing.

When it comes to electric hazards, there are infinite ways to get injured. The best you can do is be attentive while working around places with electrical hazards and wear the proper PPE to protect yourself. We hope this blog helped you get an understanding of the top 5 leading electrical hazards and how to avoid them. To purchase protective equipment for electrical hazards, give Extreme Safety a call at 310-856-0166 or visit our website.