Electricity can pose a dangerous a hazard to employees and the workplace. People can be severely injured, a fire could be started, and electrical incidents could even result in death. Although there are a number of requirements and tips for achieving proper electrical safety, here are just a few to get you started.
- Identify hazards in a Gemba walk: One of the best ways you can effectively address present electrical hazards in by going and seeing the problem by taking a Gemba walk. Take time to walk around the facility and closely look at the tasks being performed and look for possible risks. You should start the walk by creating a checklist of things to keep in mind while completing the walk, such as common types of electrical dangers. This checklist is considered a starting point, and should include dangers like employees being careless, torn/frayed wires, failure to use electrical LOTO devices, etc.
- Create an electrical safety program: Providing a comprehensive safety program for workers will keep them informed and safe in the workplace. OSHA recommends having several safety programs in the workplace with the goal to reduce injuries, improve compliance, engage workers, and increase productivity. An electrical safety program will focus on identifying best practices when it comes to working with electricity and creating goals to address hazards. OSHA also provides free materials on their website on how to create and effectively utilize and electrical safety program.
- Always have PPE for electrical work: Having the correct personal protective equipment and comprehensive training is crucial to a successful electrical safety program. PPE aimed to protect the worker from electrical hazards include flame-resistant clothing, hard hats, safety glasses, and other forms of PEP. Ensure workers are trained on understand the limits of their equipment.
- Focus on electrical training for employees: OSHA covers proper electrical training scope, content, practices, and addresses additional requirements under standard 1910.332. Training should be given to all employees who “face the risk of electric shock that is not reduced to a safe level” after following proper installation guidelines. Training can include a portion focused on your facility’s specific electrical safety signs and how to identify risks. The more you teach about the dangers of electricity and how to minimize these dangers, the safer the workplace will be. You can also take training a step further by holding specific training focused solely on arc flash dangers.
- Implement visual communication: One of the most effective strategies in communicating safe practices and enforcing safety training is through visual communication. Areas and equipment where electricity poses a hazard should be labeled as dangerous, and signs indicating areas that PPE is required should be used.
- Keep moving forward with continuous improvement: The cycle you take to achieve electrical safety (like identifying hazards, addressing the hazard, training) should not be a one-time event. There is always steps that can be taken to improve safety in the workplace and continuously working toward better electrical safety can be considered the “Kaizen” step.