Electrical safety has to be considered a top priority in the modern workplace and good practices need to be the cornerstone of your health and safety procedures when you consider the potential dangers.
There are numerous threats posed by the presence of electricity in an industrial environment such as the risk of electric shock and the potential for burns, which is why it is such a priority topic when discussing safety strategies.
Here is an overview of how to achieve electrical health and safety in the workplace, including some insights on risk assessment, the importance of assigning responsibility, and why it is better to leave electrical testing to a professional.
Assessing the risks
The most obvious starting point when you are trying to ensure you achieve a good level of electrical safety is to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment.
As part of that assessment process, you will have to identify potential hazards, including identifying the risk of electric shocks and burns as a result of coming into contact with live parts and wires.
Faulty equipment and installations are other possible sources that should be investigated. You can do this by maintaining and testing electrical equipment on a regular basis, and you can also use RCDs supplied by someone like RS Components, which will work to cut off the electrical supply as soon as a potential problem or interruption has been identified.
Other risks to look out for include plug socket outlets that are too overloaded, wires trailing dangerously across the floor, and a lack of warning labels or safety instructions.
Chain of command
One of the fundamentals of avoiding electrical hazards in the workplace is to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace environment who is using equipment or working in the area where high-voltage equipment is in use.
You can do this by providing clear instructions and ongoing training.
Regular updates and recaps are also important so that electrical safety is always a primary consideration, and all new staff inductions should include electrical safety as part of their training.
Make someone responsible for maintaining a record of any incidents or defects and establish a clear reporting system that works its way up a chain of command, so that problems can be accurately recorded and reported as well as prompting action taken by managers when necessary.
Know your limits
If you are trying to verify the electrical safety of equipment or an installation the checks have to be carried out by someone who is competent and qualified enough to do the test safely and accurately.
A qualified electrician will need to be used to check the safety of circuits and establish if the equipment being used in the workplace is performing correctly and there no known faults.
You can do some very basic checks on sockets using an electrical socket tester but you should also be aware that many of the standard socket testers you can buy are not designed to detect certain types of fault, so you could conceivably get a reading that says a socket is safe when it isn’t.
It is not worth leaving any aspect of electrical safety to chance so put your safety checks in the hands of a professional and consider having an extra layer of protection by installing RCDs as well.
Sienna Baxter has worked as an electrical safety engineer for several years and enjoys the role. She writes about workplace safety as well as staying safe with electricity at home and when doing DIY jobs.