The most crucial part of being an electrician is to always practice safety at work. According to statistics, more injuries occur at home than at job, however, workplace injuries are usually more serious, especially when working with electricity. Being an electrician is one of the most dangerous jobs there is. Some electricians are at a greater jeopardy than others, nevertheless, when electricity is involved, there is always a very real risk of getting hurt.
Safety is among the first things You learn in electrician apprenticeship, electrician training program or on any new job. Working safely and staying alert can prevent serious injuries and may even save Your life. Safety, first of all, begins with a clean working environment. When You have cords, conduit and other tools laying all over the place, this mess greatly increases the chances of an accident to occur. For instance, You may step back and trip over a piece of equipment, get your feet tangled up in cords or slip on a loose piece of conduit.
As an (aspiring) electrician You have to be strong and physically fit, thus You might think that a minor slip will not cause too much of a damage, but do not be fooled. It is possible to hit a head in such a manner that one gets brain damage or even dies. You can easily break a bone or twist something out of place so severely that you will not be able to work for weeks, or longer. When you work on a ladder or scaffolding, a fall can kill You.
Safety at workplace is not only Your employers responsibility, but Yours as well!
Electricity runs through a conductor. The current needs a continuous flow to and from the conductor to form a loop. When You plug in a power tool, electricity flows from the power source to the tool and back again to complete the circuit.
In case You somehow become a part of this circuit, life threatening injuries might occur. Being in direct contact with live electricity can result in an electric shock which may lead to a fall, cause serious burns, or electrocution.
When electricity flows through ones body, it interferes with its own electrical signals. This may cause irregular breathing, muscle spasms or stopping heart from pumping.
When you are working with live wires electricity may “jump” out. Since electricity needs to complete its circuit, it may search for a conductor to help it find a ground. Unfortunately, humans are great conductors, so if You are standing in between the flow and the ground, it will pass through You.
Damage is also caused when electricity arcs or flashes. An electrical arc can not only cause severe burns, blindness or start a fire, but also damage close by machinery, rupture ones eardrums, collapse lungs etc. with the wave of pressure created by the explosion.
Staying Safe at Work
Fortunately, huge portion of injuries can be avoided. High safety standards at work practices will go a long way in preventing accidents. The number one rule is always to be alert and aware of potential dangers.
To keep Yourself safe when working with electricity always:
- Investigate power cords, tools and other electrical components for possible damage or wear before using. In case You notice any damage or excessive wear, immediately repair it. Regardless of how busy You might be at the time, taking a few minutes to med the equipment could save You a lot of time later!
- Use battery powered tools whenever and wherever possible. If You have to use extension cords, keep the out of Your way. Tape the cords to the floor or onto the wall so that You and any other person would not get tangled or trip over them. For this action do not use nails or staples as they will likely damage the wires inside the cords presenting the risk of electrical shock, and, additionally, in case damage is too significant, You might need to purchase new ones. This means extra expense You really do not need!
- Verify that Your tools are rated for the amperage or wattage required for the job you are doing. Not enough power will make the job more difficult and time consuming. On the other hand, too much power can cause fire to break out.
- Avoid wearing loose safety clothing and jewelry that may get caught up anywhere.
Using Power Tools
Power tools are very dangerous (and thus a huge threat to the safety) when used incorrectly. Always treat Your tools with the utmost care and keep in mind how dangerous they can be. Bear in mind that if a saw can cut through conduit, what do you think it can do to your skin? To practice safety at work:
- Never pull the plug from the outlet without turning the tool off first. When you leave the switch in the “on” position it will begin to run the next time you plug it in. This can cause all sorts of damage or injuries.
- Never make adjustments to any equipment with the power still on. Always disconnect all power sources first.
- Ground your tools properly. Never break off the third “ground” prong. If the outlet you need to use does not have a ground socket, use a different outlet. Test your tools with a ground fault circuit interrupter if there is any chance you may not be ground properly.
The employer You work for will do everything possible to ensure you have a safe working environment, but it is Your own responsibility to make sure You always practice safety at work!