Electrical Safety Program: Planning Standards and Hazard Identification

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By Cole Ferguson

So you've gathered your data and finished up with the housekeeping portion of your electrical safety program, and you've now also gotten your program's roles and responsibilities clearly defined. The big question now is: what comes next?

Planning

The next thing you need to include in your electrical safety program is the Planning section. Here you should outline all the safety codes, regulations, and standards that your electrical safety program adheres to. You want to make sure that your electrical safety program is, from a legal point of view, bulletproof. The odds are high that you will need to adhere to one of CSA Z462 (if you're in Canada), NFPA 70E (if you're in the United States), or EN 50110 (if you're just about anywhere in Europe). Broader organizations that produce standards include OSHA, IEC, IEEE, and ANSI. This is in addition to any standards specific to your location, including provincial and state regulations.

Your planning phase also needs to have some occupational health and safety objectives and targets. Consider the types of things you want to prevent, including things like physical harm to workers and damage to equipment. In essence, the question you're trying to answer here is “What is my electrical safety plan going to do to keep people safe, and what kind of safety goals does it have?”

To expand on this, an important part of the planning phase is Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment. These topics go hand in hand, so we'll get you started on Hazard Identification, and will cover Risk Assessment in a later article.

Hazard Identification

A hazard can be considered to be anything at work (an item, a condition, an action, etc.) with an unacceptably high potential to cause either bodily harm to persons on the job, or damage to equipment. Your electrical safety program should clearly outline how to identify a hazard. One example would be a procedure that must be followed to safely determine whether or not equipment is energized. Your program should also indicate who is qualified to identify hazards before work is to be attempted, and should cover any training a person might need to become qualified to identify these hazards.

Now that we have hazards out of the way, the next thing we want to talk about is Risk.

This post is part 5 of the "Electrical Safety Program Development" series:

  1. How to Create an Electrical Safety Program
  2. Electrical Safety Program: Getting Started
  3. Your Electrical Safety Program: Document Housekeeping
  4. Electrical Safety Program: Health and Safety, Your Roles and Responsibilities
  5. Electrical Safety Program: Planning Standards and Hazard Identification
  6. Electrical Safety Program: Planning Risk Assessment - What Makes an Electrically Safe Working Condition?
  7. Electrical Safety Program: Training and Clear Communication
  8. Electrical Safety Program Wrap Up: Documentation, Evaluation and Corrective Action