Written by: Keith Brown, Safety Supervisor
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fatal work related injuries for calendar year 2017 in Florida totaled 299, of which 19 were the result of exposure to electricity. Though this is a decrease in electrical work related fatalities from that of 2016, which experienced 23 fatalities, there has been a general upward trending of electrical related workplace fatalities within Florida since 2011.
This indicates a need for increased awareness of potential electrical hazards in the workplace, requiring the attention and involvement of personnel at all levels of every workplace.
Most electrical incidents result from one or more of the following three factors:
• unsafe equipment or installation,
• unsafe environment, or
• unsafe work practices.
Some ways to prevent these incidents are through the use of insulation, guarding, grounding, electrical protective devices, safe work practices, and probably most importantly; training on recognizing and reporting electrical hazards.
Prior to use of any electrical device or equipment, an examination must be conducted to ensure it is in good condition. This includes examining power cords and plugs, as well as the integrity of the outer casing designed to protect the user from exposure to live electrical parts. Permanent and specialized electrical equipment must be installed by qualified personnel. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) General Industry Electrical Standard (Subpart S of 29 CFR 1910), a qualified person is, “One who has received training in and has demonstrated skills and knowledge in the construction and operation of electric equipment and installations and the hazards involved.”
Tools, equipment, and electrical utilization systems must be appropriate for the environment in which they are to be used. For example, electrical receptacles and switches used in wet locations must be provided with weatherproof enclosures and covers; and equipment and tools used in hazardous areas where flammable atmospheres may be present must be intrinsically safe. Likewise, electrical devices designed, manufactured and approved for home or office use do not belong in an industrial environment.
Conducting a Job Hazard Analysis before performing a task can lead to the identification of potential hazards and help eliminate unsafe work practices which might expose workers to live electrical parts such as overhead power lines and buried or hidden electrical cables. Safe electrical work practices also include using equipment in the manner for which it was designed and approved by the manufacturer.
In 2002, OSHA published its revised booklet, “Controlling Electrical Hazards” (OSHA 3075) and is available for download at: http://www.osha.gov/pls/publications/publication.athruz?pType=Industry&pID=73
Do you have questions on how to conduct a JSA? Contact USF SafetyFlorida at 1-866-273-1105 or visit www.usfsafetyflorida.com.