6 Reasons to Have an Electrical Safety Program

When I first started researching and writing about electrical safety, I didn’t really know what an electrical safety program was or why someone would need it. I had a gut feeling that if you were someone working with electricity, an electrical safety program would keep you safe. I felt like that was enough. However, all safety programs help keep workers safe, so why would a business specifically want an electrical safety program?

Overhead power lines are the number one cause of electrical work fatalities

According to the ESFI, between 2003 and 2010 there were 1,635 workplace fatalities related to electricity in the private industry. Between 2003 and 2010 there were also 20,150 nonfatal electrical injuries involving days away from work in the private industry. Although the number of accidents related to electricity has been dropping steadily every year, the fact is that one accident is one too many. It is very important for your workplace to have an electrical safety program to help lower the risk when working around energized equipment, so here are 6 great reasons why you can benefit from an electrical safety program:

1. Employees will be well educated.

An electrical safety program will ensure that employees are well informed and have up-to-date training for their jobs. The two major causes of electrical accident fatalities are contact with overhead power lines and contact with wiring, transformers, and other electrical components. Well trained, well informed workers will cause fewer accidents and be less at risk.

2. Fewer accidents means money saved.

Statistics gathered by the NFPA show that the average electrical accident costs $80,023. This cost includes both workers’ compensation (medical bills and wages while unable to work) as well as equipment costs.

3. It can increase productivity by causing you to schedule your work better.

Accidents are time consuming. Before you work on it, equipment should always be de-energized when possible. Having a procedure in place for scheduling this type of work ensures that work on one system is not impacting the operation of another electrical system. This leads to greater uptime for your facility.

4. It makes it easier to adapt to changing safety standards.

When you’re on the bleeding edge of safety progress, it will be easier for you to adapt to changes to any standards you currently follow. When it comes to safety, you want to lead from the front, not follow behind.

5. Having an accident free workplace builds trust.

This might be one of the most important points. You won’t have unexpected shut-downs and won’t be incurring high accident costs. Your leading stance on safety puts you ahead of the competition. People will want to work with you, for you, and will want to invest in you because being accident-free makes you reliable.

6. It’s very easy and simple to do!

There is a wealth of tools and information available to you when creating your electrical safety program, and they’re easy to combine with whatever current safety program you might have in place. IEEE, NFPA 70E, and CSA Z462 can help get you started, but there’s all kinds of information out there on the internet if you take the time to look.
And those are 6 great reasons why an electrical safety program can benefit you. Thanks for reading! If you liked this article be sure to share with the buttons below and sign up for our newsletter where you will get these posts in your inbox and special offers. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and like our page on Facebook.

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Electrical Safety Program: Training and Clear Communication

The previous two articles talked about planning your electrical safety program, and included hazard identification and risk assessment. This article is going to talk about putting your plan into action.
The next section to include in your own electrical safety program is Implementation. As they saying goes, you’ve planned your work and now you have to work your plan. This involves checking all of your available resources (electrical system data, personnel, equipment, cash, etc.) and getting to work at making your working area safe. This phase should outline any precautions and preventative measures that need to be taken, such as setting up warning signs and labels, and making sure all equipment meets the safety regulations defined in the planning phase. You’ll also want to make sure you have enough personal protective equipment and insulated tools and have a way to obtain them and a method for approving them. PPE should be examined before each use and should be replaced if there are any abnormalities or damage to the PPE.

On the job training is an important part of your electrical safety program.

Training

The implementation phase is also where you’ll outline your electrical safety program’s training plan and schedule. Training methods are varied and can include a healthy mix of classroom and on the job training. Job specific training should be mandatory before performing any new job. If the job is performed infrequently, you should establish a set period of time that can pass before it becomes necessary for an employee to repeat the training for that particular job. Something to stress here is diligence: complacency with work can be just much of a hazard as anything else. Everyone should always be up to date on their training for any job.

Job Planning

Speaking of jobs, you’ll also want to outline processes for job planning meetings. These should take place before a job dealing with energized equipment begins. You need to determine who should hold the meetings, identify the hazards involved with the job, perform a risk assessment, develop a plan for actually performing the job, and identify any PPE or tools required to complete the job. An example can be found in CSA Z462.

The Importance of Communication

You’ll also want your electrical safety program to stress the importance of clear communication and awareness here. If an employee doesn’t understand something related to the work they are going to be doing, they should be encouraged to ask questions. Any questions should only be answered by qualified individuals who are sure that they know the answer. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t know something, confess to not knowing and find someone who does. Never give a false or incomplete answer. Likewise, if a job is going to be performed around heavy equipment, make sure the communication protocols are clearly defined so that people don’t misinterpret information: confusion will lead to human error. And please, try to avoid jargon. You can find our article about the evils of jargon in the workplace here.
Finally, your electrical safety program will need to explain your emergency prevention and response system for when things eventually do go wrong. All employees should have some basic form of emergency training, but job specific emergency responses (such as responses for accidents around high voltage equipment) should be outlined.
Now that you’ve got an idea of how to implement your electrical safety plan, you’ll want to start thinking about Documentation Methods, Evaluation and Corrective Action.

This is part of our Electrical Safety Program Series.

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