Working directly with or anywhere near equipment that is powered by electricity or emits any sort of significant heat requires a safety-first approach that ensures you minimize the potential risk of an accident.
Here is a look at some sensible safety precautions to keep at the forefront of your mind when working with electricity and tips on how to contend with arc flash issues. Included is an overview of sensible safety strategies and suggested clothing and protective equipment options.
Water and electricity are a bad mix
It might be stating the obvious but it is always worth repeating one of the key warnings that you should avoid any contact with water at all times when you are working with electricity.
Never be tempted to try and touch or attempt any sort of repair to any electrical circuits or equipment when you have wet hands as it is a potentially lethal combination due to the fact that it is a scenario that helps to increase the conductivity of any electrical current.
The risk of shock
There are many different potential electrical hazards you have to be alert to and wary of including exposed energized parts and electrical equipment which is unguarded and has the propensity to become energized unexpectedly.
It is expected that any equipment that has the capacity to do this will be clearly identified as a shock risk in the form of a label displayed prominently. Always look out for this signage and ensure that you follow the relevant safety rules to take the required precautions.
Never attempt to repair energized equipment and always carry out a safety test beforehand using an electric tester to confirm whether a current is flowing through and the item is energized or not.
The threat of arc flash
As well as taken precautions by checking the energized status of equipment another threat to be constantly wary of is the threat of arc flash.
Arc flash is created as a result of a rapid release of energy due to an arcing fault between two separate phase bus bars, either neutral or a ground.
There are various safety aids to provide protection such as BlastTac Blast Blankets but what you need to be constantly aware of is the fact that any arc flash incident could create a catastrophic scenario that any electrical worker would do well to avoid in the first place.
This powerful electrical surge begins with a powerful electrical surge and is often followed by an explosion, the distribution of molten metal shrapnel, combined with a blinding light and an assault on your ears that is just one of the threats created by a flash of fire that can be considerably hotter than the sun.
Safety training and protection
It is critical that anyone at risk from the threat of arc-flashing needs to wear the right personal protective equipment and clothing.
There should also be plenty of visible arc flash warnings in the area where energized pieces of equipment can be found. In addition, regular safety training and audits of equipment will help to raise awareness and reduce the prospect of a potentially fatal incident occurring.
Wearing the right protective clothing
Working with live power sources and facing the potential threat associated with electrical shock or within an area that is classified as a recognized arc flash incident energy and protection boundary, requires a combined approach of comprehensive safety training combined with adequate protective clothing.
It is essential that you choose safety clothing that is rated to at least meet or preferably exceed the relevant arc flash rating of the equipment you are going to be working on.
Items to include amongst your checklist would be adequately rated clothing and arc-resistant shoes together with good quality rubber gloves and face shields. It would also be advisable to work with insulated tools to reduce the risk factor even further.
A safety culture
Safety in the workplace always has to be a primary consideration and in addition to providing the right safety clothing and equipment, it requires a culture of compliance from everyone working under these potentially dangerous conditions.
A regular audit of safety working practices and checks on energized equipment will help to lower the prospect of a serious incident. Also, regular safety training sessions and enforcement of safety procedures will all help to ingrain a safety culture with the workplace where everyone is vigilant and looks out for each other as well as themselves.
You should always be safety smart whenever you are working anywhere near electricity.
Jess Watts is an electrician who is always looking for safer ways to do his job. When he finds them, he loves to share them on various business and safety blogs.