Electricity, as a form of power, has been with us for a couple of hundred years now. In that time it has spread rapidly and now is common across the globe, powering homes and businesses. It is used in almost every setting to provide heating, lighting and to power everything from humble domestic appliances to massive industrial equipment. It’s also deadly. In the workplace figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that several thousand deaths can be attributed to accidents involving electricity. Injury and fatality related to electrical accidents vary widely in their causes; poorly maintained electrical equipment, working with power lines (overhead and underground), working on domestic wiring or fires caused by faulty (or poorly installed) electrical wiring are all cited as the causes of accidents. Injuries related to poor electrical hazard control include electric shock, and associated burns, injuries resulting from fires and explosions caused by flammable vapours ignited by either static electricity or apparatus. For employers in most industries
Electrical Hazard Control is an essential part of their overall Health and Safety duties and for those who work in industries related to installation and maintenance of electrical equipment it is essential.
Basic Standards for Electrical Safety
As with all matters relating to Health and Safety the basis of good Electrical Hazard Control is the risk assessment. This should include basic assessment of the individuals who may be at risk, the level of risk involved and how this has been established. It should also include details of the measures in place to control those risks. Assessments should also include an examination of the type of equipment used, how and where it is used. Specific requirements relating to any electrical equipment itself should include assessment of how suitable the equipment is for its use and ensure that it is only operated for uses for which it is designed. Environmental factors are important in managing risks from electrical equipment; damp or wet conditions can create hazards when using electrical equipment or installing electrical infrastructure. In commercial and industrial settings any isolators and fuse boxes are essential in cutting off electricity in the event of problems; these should be kept closed and, if possible, locked with access limited to specified individuals.
Electrical Hazard Control in Different Workplaces
Electrical Hazard control applies to most commercial operations and in an office setting simple steps to ensure that employees are properly trained to use electrical equipment and that the equipment is only used for its specific purposes should be simple. Good housekeeping principles should be employed in terms of ensuring that sockets are not overloaded and that wires are safely placed. Electrical hazard control should form a standard part of your normal risk assessments and be conducted on a regular basis. As part of Health and Safety training, members of staff should be encouraged in good practice relating to electrical equipment and encouraged to report or rectify any issues promptly. In manufacturing environments the risks can be greater and specialist training may be suitable for managers and supervisors in terms of electrical hazard control. The type of industry, the equipment used and any associated hazards (potentially dangerous chemicals and/or substances) should be taken into account when conducting risk assessments in these settings.
Installation and Maintenance of Electrical Infrastructure
For those working in electrical installation, or maintenance settings, the risks of injury or death are arguably higher than in many other work place settings. Employers should ensure that they have conducted a risk assessment so that all risks have been assessed and that staff are adequately qualified to carry out their duties and that additional risks that may be associated with their work are also assessed (working at height and working with electricity can pose additional dangers).