Working with electrical systems and components is an extremely dangerous task, particularly if you’re untrained, unqualified, or inexperienced. Professionals go through years of training to be able to work with electrical units every day, which is essential to ensure that they are safe and secure around such potentially hazardous objects. What are some of the basics of electrical safety and why is it so important that they are followed?
Prevent contact with live currents
Everything should be done to prevent human contact, intentional or accidental, with live wires and currents. These can be incredibly harmful and potentially fatal for anyone who isn’t prepared with the proper equipment or personal protective clothing. This is why it’s essential that any wiring on electrical units or components is properly insulated and protected. The same goes for indirect contact with electrical components – for instance, using metal tools or objects when touching conductive materials or appliances. The one fundamental thing to remember is to avoid touching anything that has any sort of electricity running through it.
Ensure lockouts are used properly
Isolating circuits before working in and around them is an extremely important process to remember. Lockout equipment is crucially applied before any work is done on electrical systems. It isolates electrical energy within a circuit whilst maintenance work is being carried out to protect the worker and anyone around. Failure to install the equipment properly can have devastating consequences. Multifunction testers like these from RS are used to verify the successful installation of a lockout system before any maintenance or repair work is carried out.
Wear appropriate clothing and equipment
Whenever you’re working around electrical items, you should always ensure you are wearing the appropriate clothing and using the necessary equipment to mitigate the risks of potentially life-threatening levels of electricity. Antistatic boots, resistant gloves, eyewear and other items of PPE should be worn at all times to prevent electrocution or static discharge. ESD mats are useful for anyone working with electrical components to prevent discharge or electrocution. Those working at heights and with electricity are in even more danger, so using reliable fall protection is urged too.
Qualifications are essential
Only those with the relevant qualifications should be handling or working with electrical systems. Working without such experience or knowledge can increase the risk of exposure, damage, fatality or harm to surrounding people and objects. Qualified electricians, for example, usually have to complete 3 to 4 years of apprenticeship and achieve a level 3 diploma before they can work with electrical units and systems on their own. Homeowners are advised to avoid fixing electrical units themselves unless they are experienced in doing so and are following the above basic rules.
Avoid combining water and electricity at all costs
Another crucial electrical safety tip is to avoid mixing electricity and water wherever possible. Water isn’t an effective conductor, but chemicals and substances in water can make it extremely so. Don’t go anywhere near electrical outlets, wiring or circuits with damp hands or moist items. Furthermore, don’t operate electrical appliances or machinery near water or where water may interact with such items.
Working with electricity is an incredibly hazardous task and one that no one should attempt without the proper qualifications and understanding. You should be aware of the basics of electrical safety if you are a professional working in the industry, so teaching others about the dangers of electricity should be a fundamental part of your role. For those who aren’t aware of the dangers or what measures to take when you are working with electricity, hopefully this article will have helped.