When you misuse electricity, you can get burned, shocked, or electrocuted. Keep in mind that electrocution is one of the “Fatal Four”- electrocution is one of the four leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites. In 2012, 9% of deaths in construction were caused by electrocutions. Electrical hazards are all around the job site. Take the following simple precautions when you work around electricity to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.
Know where electrical wires are located. This can include overhead power lines, electrical wiring on the job, and cables buried underground. Be aware; look up, down, and around. Call to have electrical utility lines located before you dig.
Always assume overhead power lines are energized at lethal voltages. Never touch a fallen power line. Always stay at least 10 feet away from overhead wires. Be very careful when you use cranes, forklifts, aerial lifts, scaffolds, ladders, or long-handled tools like bull floats near power lines. Never use metal ladders around power lines. Use wood or fiberglass ladders instead.
Remember that electricity naturally flows to ground. Metal, water, wet clothing, and your body all conduct electricity. If you become part of a circuit or the path to ground, you will get shocked, burned, or electrocuted.
Read signs and symbols warning you of the hazards of electric shock or burn. Don’t bypass guards, barriers, protective systems, or safety devices designed to keep you from coming into contact with electricity. Use proper LOTO procedures to guarantee that the circuits and equipment you’re working on are not energized.
Be careful with electrical cords. Protect cords from damage caused by sharp edges and rough surfaces. Never carry a tool by its cord or yank a cord to disconnect it from an outlet. Only use 3-wire extension cords that are rated for hard or extra-hard usage. Don’t run power through a coiled cord; inductive heating can damage the cord or cause a fire.
Use double-insulated tools. Inspect electrical tools before you use them, especially the housings of double-insulated tools. Remove electrical tools and cords from service if they: have frayed or damaged cords, are missing ground prongs, have cracked housings, or are damaged in any other way. Use tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions. Plug electrical hand tools into receptacles protected with GFCIs. Never stand in water when using electrical tools. Keep tools clean, lubricated, and in good working order.
At home, keep electrical appliances away from water. Don’t use them when your hands are wet or when the appliances are on wet surfaces. Use GFCI- protected outlets when electricity is used near water. Don’t overload circuits or receptacles; they can get hot and cause fires.
Safety Reminder: Teach children to stay away from electrical facilitieslike substations, transmission towers, and power lines.