From powerline workers to electrical engineers to indoor electricians, there are many jobs associated with electricity in the construction industry. Electrical contractors perform some of the most important work in any construction project. However, their work is also some of the most dangerous on the jobsite, raising serious concerns for electrical safety in the construction industry.
Electrical workers can be at risk of harmful shock, gruesome burns, and even deadly electrocutions. Of the OSHA “fatal four,” electrical shocks count for the third-highest amount of fatalities. In fact, 82 worker deaths resulted from electrocution injuries in 2016, accounting for 8.3% of the 991 total worker deaths that year in the construction industry.
Safety should be the highest priority on construction sites, so below we’ll give you some tips on the best practices for improving electrical safety in the construction industry.
1) Conduct risk assessments
Before any work begins on-site, your workers should survey the working area and conduct risk assessments of all the electrical hazards. Doing this will not only allow your workers to understand what dangers they face in the area, but it also allows for the setup of a safety plan and procedures to prevent any mishaps.
2) Determine where electrical hazards are
In addition to a risk assessment, workers should know exactly where each electrical hazard is located. One efficient way to keep track of all the hazards is to utilize project management software.
When inspecting the site, workers can take pictures of hazards in the area and take important notes about each hazard. Once completed, the information will be automatically saved to the cloud base for workers across the jobsite to share, allowing them to know exactly where to take extra caution.
3) Use testing equipment
Make sure to use approved electrical power testing equipment to help prevent shocks and potential fatal electrocutions. If you’re not sure of how to handle certain wiring or equipment, don’t gamble with a chance. Good testing equipment can include voltage detectors, clamp meters, and receptacle testers.
4) Ensure employees have proper training in electrical equipment
When workers use the same equipment every day, it can lead to bad habits and improper usage. This act can be very dangerous, so it’s important that your workers have the correct training to carry out their duties safely. Workers also need to know how to properly use every tool, especially when engaging in direct electrical work.
5) Use voltage regulators and circuit breakers
Both are crucial to ensuring safety on the job site. Surge protectors are great tools to shut down power during an emergency, and voltage regulators help to prevent equipment damage during electricity surges.
6) Use cord protectors
It’s important to use safe extension cords and outlet strips when working with electricity. Cable covers and cord protectors are another good way to practice electrical safety in the construction industry. Also be sure to install floor cord protectors not only to protect the lines running across the space, but also to prevent workers from tripping over loose cords.
7) Never work in wet conditions
As you should know, water and electricity don’t mix well. The presence of water significantly increases your chances of getting electrocuted when working with electrical equipment, especially if the equipment is poorly insulated. Wet electrical equipment should be inspected by a qualified electrician before turning the power back on to ensure complete worker safety.
8) Always wear personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment is your first line of defense to potential shocks that may occur while on the job. The amount you wear will depend on how exposed to electricity you are, but it’s always a good idea to wear electrical gloves and footwear at a minimum when working with electrical equipment.
If you’re working with wiring or in close contact with electricity, you should wear a face shield, fire-resistant helmet, and other forms of eye and ear protection to ensure your safety.
Safety should be the #1 priority on any construction site, especially from the electrical standpoint. Electrical safety in the construction industry has always been a concern, but the above tips should give you a much better insight and understanding of how to minimize the risks of working with electrical equipment.
Be sure to keep track of all of these tips, especially to never work in wet conditions and always wear personal protective equipment. Also be sure to check out why electrical subcontractors use integrated construction management software to see how a project management software can boost your firm’s efficiency and productivity.