From powerline workers to electrical engineers to indoor electricians, there are many jobs associated with electricity in the construction industry. When it comes to construction, electrical contractors perform some of the most integral and difficult work of any project. However, their work is also sometimes the most dangerous, 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. A job should never endanger its employees, regardless of whether you work in an office or at a construction site. Of the OSHA “Fatal Four,” electrical shocks account for the third-highest amount of fatalities. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 160 worker deaths resulted from electrocution injuries in 2018. To avoid electrically-induced death or injury requires a well-thought-out electrical safety plan that takes into account the present risks and dangers of performing electrical work in the construction industry.
Safety should be the highest priority on construction sites. Below are several workplace electrical safety tips and practices designed to improve your safety in the electrical construction industry.
1) Conduct Risk Assessments
Of the electrical safety topics, risk assessments are one of the most important for preventing accidents and reducing overall risk. Before any work begins on-site, your workers should survey the working area and conduct risk assessments of all the electrical hazards. Taking such a precaution will not only inform your workers of the present dangers on the site, but it also establishes safety plans and procedures to prevent any mishaps.
2) Determine where electrical hazards are
In addition to a risk assessment, workers should be informed of the exact location of each electrical hazard on the job site. An efficient way of keeping track of all on-site hazards is by using project management software. This is one of several electrical safety tips at work that can save you both time and money.
When inspecting the site, workers should photograph hazards in the area and take important notes regarding proper safety precautions. Once completed, the information will be automatically saved to the cloud for workers across the job site to view and share, informing all on-site workers of the exact dangers and how to avoid them.
3) Use testing equipment
When it comes to electrical safety in construction, testing equipment is key. To prevent shocks and other potentially fatal electrocutions, remember to use approved electrical power testing equipment. This allows you to properly assess the level of risk of an operation. Don’t leave your life, or the lives of your employees, up to chance. Test any and all wiring to double-check whether it is grounded, dead, or requires additional safety equipment. Acquiring and using high-quality testing equipment should be the first step in your electrical safety plan. Such testing devices can include voltage detectors, clamp meters, and receptacle testers.
4) Ensure employees have proper training in electrical equipment
This might seem like an unnecessary workplace electrical safety tip to bring up because your employees are professionals, but this can be often overlooked. Like every field, 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
Utilizing both devices is one of the many electrical tips presented that can be crucial to ensuring safety on the job site. Surge protectors are great tools for shutting 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 safety in the electrical construction industry. Also, be sure to install floor cord protectors; not only to protect the lines running across a 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. Eliminating wet conditions should be part of the electrical safety plan.
8) Always wear personal protective equipment
There are a lot of great workplace electrical safety tips presented here, but this might be one of the most important. 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. It is highly recommended that, when working in the electrical construction industry, you always wear electrical gloves and footwear to protect you from any random accidents that may fall through your electrical safety plan.
If you’re working with wiring or in close contact with electricity, you should also 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 those apart of the electrical construction industry. Electrical safety is always a concern, but the above electrical tips should give you a much better insight and understanding of how to minimize the risks of working with electrical equipment. Using workplace electrical safety tips, you can now develop an electrical safety plan that ensures the safety of your employees before they step foot on the worksite.
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, like eSub, to keep their worksites safe and secured. Such an investment can boost your firm’s efficiency and productivity as well as its level of safety. Leave no electrical safety topic unchecked. It could save your life.