Getting into a trade is in demand now more than ever before. With the costs of higher education skyrocketing and no guarantee of a high paying job after, more people are considering working as a tradesman instead.
Chief among the trades are electricians. No matter what the economy is like, people need to keep the lights on and will pay a professional to do the work. Doing DIY electrical is risky and often illegal so as an electrician, you will never be short of work.
However, it is a risky profession. In fact, it is one of the most dangerous since you’re working with electricity. It can be very safe at the same time, however. If you follow basic safety rules then you needn’t worry about the dangers of working with live electricity.
In this article, I will give you some of the basics when it comes to staying safe on the job. If you are an electrician to be then get familiar with these safety rules to make sure that you have a long career ahead of you.
Participate in an arc flash study
It’s hard to pinpoint what may be the most dangerous situation to find yourself in when it comes to working with electricity, but there is no doubt that an arc flash is high up there.
This is when an electrical charge travels through the air to ground or some other voltage phase that then creates an explosion. Not only is the charge dangerous, but the explosion can lead to massive burns.
An arc flash study is a sort of dry run on a system that has been configured to see if it will be dangerous and what the risk of an explosion would be. You likely aren’t going to do the study yourself, but you should make sure that one is being planned so you know where the risk is on the plans.
This is done with some software that runs the data that you provide and does an analysis to find any potential faults in the diagram. If everything looks good then you can be sure that the protective devices upstream will do their job and keep you safe.
Keep your tools maintained
After completing the study you are still not clear to work on a system in safety. It is usually the most mundane thing that can put you in danger. And if your tools are not properly maintained then it is likely that this is where your problem will be.
Your tools should be in good shape and work the way they are intended. Do a check of all of your tools that you will need to use that day before getting to work. This takes time, but factor this time on the job and don’t rush.
Check for frayed cords or loose prongs. Then, make sure that the body of the tools doesn’t have any cracks and that the switches are not loose or broken. Don’t be tempted to just use it this one last time if you see that there are potential dangerous damages.
Have a backup of your tools so that if you do find that one has been damaged, you don’t lose time by having to track down another or to repair the one you have. When your tool has been taken out of use, make sure to tag it so somebody else doesn’t use a faulty tool.
One of the rules that you need to follow for every phase of the job is to not assume anything. For instance, you may have shut everything down but you can’t assume that somebody won’t come along and turn on a switch box or machine that you’re working on.
The key is to take the time to lock the switchbox and tag it so nobody unlocks it and switches something on. Do the same for the machine you may be working on so the tag can alert everybody around that you need it to remain off so you aren’t dealing with live wires.
Even after tagging and locking out, make sure to use a tester to ensure the lines are not energized.
Don’t touch an electrocuted person
Even though you know that electricity travels, if you see a person getting electrocuted it is natural to want to save them by touching them.
Before you do anything, shutr off the power source to stop the flow of electricity. Even if it means having to take time to get to the source. You will be electrocuted along with them if you attempt to push them off of the wire using your body.
If the source is too far away or you don’t know where it is, then try using a piece of wood to push him away as it won’t conduct the electricity. Call 911 either after shutting off the power or pushing them off the line. If the power is still on then make sure that the responders know the danger of the area where you are.
Always wear your PPE
There is no excuse for not wearing your protective gear. Your goggles, insulated gloves and hard hats should never be neglected. You may feel like you can work better when you are unimpeded, but they are essential to staying safe.
Also, wear appropriate clothing. Never work shirtless, for example just because it is hot out. Wear the right clothing and keep your gear on and you will stay much safer. You should also do an inspection of your PPE before starting a job. If your gloves are damaged, for instance, then they become a liability instead of keeping you safe.
Safety should be a habit that you never stray away from. When you have been working for a while you may feel like you can take some short cuts, but this is unwise. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, always practice these safety rules.