How to Prevent Electrical Hazards in the Workplace?

According to their October 2021 report, the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) of Ontario found that during an almost 10-year timespan (2011 to 2020), 50 people had died from electrocution or the severe effects of electrical burns, and 80 fatalities occurred due to electrical fires in the workplace. Although their findings also reflect a downward trend in this type of workplace hazard, educating employees and supervisors still ranks as a high priority. Understanding how to prevent electrical hazards is extremely vital to both licensed electricians and anyone who comes in contact with electricity. To begin with, here are some tactics for avoiding injuries and fatalities that result from electrical hazards:

  • Regular inspections of power boxes, breakers, and switches
  • Education on the safe use of all electrical equipment
  • Training related to the signs of an electrical hazard
  • Consistent maintenance performed by a licensed electrician

These are just a few steps a person can take to help ensure workplace safety. Although, many things can be implemented.

Power Cords to prevent electrical hazards
Figure 1: Checking Power Cords

Check The Quality of All Power Cords

When purchasing power cords, You will need to check for labels that signify that the product has been tested and inspected in an independent laboratory. Also, you can check the back of the packaging, where you will find information about the materials from the cord fabricated along with safety testing data.

Also, you will need to make sure the power cord is built to handle the amount of wattage required to run your equipment safely and efficiently. First, you have to look for the cord’s gauge on its tag or the packaging. The lower number indicates that the cord can handle a larger current, whereas a higher number signals the opposite. And do not forget to check the label or ask a licensed electrician whether this cord is used indoors or outdoor, or both depending on where your equipment will be operating.

Panel Box and Transformers
Figure 2: Panel Box and Transformer

Regularly Check the Panel Box and Transformers

Likewise, precautionary measures should be taken both inside and outside of the building. Having licensed electricians check breaker boxes and control panels periodically lessens the chance of a disaster occurring. It includes inspecting switches for discoloration (which signals faulty wiring) or for normal age, wear, and tear along with circuit breakers to ensure they’re still performing at a peak level. In addition to checking this area where the electricity was first installed, they or employees of your local utility company can check transformers and power lines that are located within the proximity of the premises to make sure they are still in a safe condition. Just the same, you should call the utility company immediately if you see a downed line or a damaged transformer.

If you are in a situation of working from home, you can order a biannual inspection of your box at the very least. Plus, for additional reassurance, you can call your utility company to inquire about the frequency and depth of Inspections in your neighborhood.

Avoid Overloading in outlets to prevent electrical hazards
Figure 3: Avoid Overloading in Outlets

Avoid Overloading in Outlets to Prevent Electrical Hazards

Another important practice involves not overloading your outlets. Whether your office is located down the hall at home or in another building downtown, safe use of electrical outlets is standard practice for workplace safety. Considering the outlets are designed to hold a limited degree of a power load, plugging in too many appliances or devices at once presents a highly unsafe condition. Thus, if you have too many gadgets plugged in at once, or the items possess too many amperes, then the circuit breaker trips and cuts off power to that circuit, or if there is no breaker or the breaker is faulty, then the wiring will overheat and cause a fire.

If you’re not sure about the rating of your outlets, a licensed electrician can conduct an inspection and provide that information to you. This measure further ensures that outlets won’t be overloaded.

Inspecting Cords
Figure 4: Inspect Electrical Cords

Inspect Electrical Cords

Just like your power and extension cords need a periodic inspection, the electrical cord on your equipment needs to be checked for flaws that could result in a short circuit or fire. In the case of appliances, tools, and other electrical items that are constantly moved around, the cord can get frayed or stripped. Also, the prongs can break if the cord was pulled from the middle instead of unplugged right at the outlet. Even if your appliance remains stationary, you should still watch for damage that results from something heavy falling on it or from getting pinched.

Avoid Binding Cables
Figure 5: Avoid Binding Cables

Avoid Binding and Knotting Cables to Prevent Electrical Hazards

Another hazardous practice involves binding and knotting cables to keep them out of the way of foot traffic or from spreading out all over your workspace. Ironically, this practice is meant to prevent other types of dangers such as tripping and falling. However, you’re looking at getting shocked or creating a fire hazard since bound and knotted cables usually signal an outlet overload. The best way to keep cables and cords out of the way is to go wireless, but if that’s not possible then cables should be routed as close to a wall as possible and contained behind covers that prevent damage to the cable and are aesthetically appealing.

Unplug unused appliances to prevent electrical hazarads
Figure 6: Unplug Unused Appliances

Unused Appliances Need to be Unplugged

Another way to prevent damaged cords or the binding, tangling, or knotting of cables involves unplugging any appliances or other equipment when it’s not in use. Furthermore, adopting this habit saves on electricity because a small amount of energy that’s still flowing through to multiple appliances quickly adds up. Also, you’ll be avoiding the hazard of overloading outlets or power strips.

Licensed Electrician
Figure 7: Only Licensed Electricians

Hire Licensed Electricians for Inspections, Repairs, and Installations

Hiring licensed electricians (or residential electricians in the case of working from home) means that no guesswork is involved when determining if breakers need replacing or if outlets or cords are damaged. Furthermore, a professional can help you install electrical equipment safely to that you won’t have to worry about electrical or tripping hazards.

For instance, the licensed electricians at Salter Electric offer services for both commercial and residential wiring. They can repair and replace faulty switches, outlets, and wires or install wiring for new construction. Moreover, they take workplace safety seriously. Feel free to call Salter Electric with your questions or concerns about keeping your business safely connected.

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