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Working with electricity: Browns top tips

Posted on 24th Apr, 2015 | By Lorretta Tatham

It goes without saying that electricity is dangerous.

From serious injuries, right through to death, failure to work with electrical equipment safely is a common cause of injury and can affect many trades, not just electricians.

Whether you’re working around overhead power lines, carrying out electrical maintenance or working in potentially flammable atmospheres you are at risk.

In today’s blog, we’ll be outlining the hazards of working around electricity and highlighting a few simple precautions to take when working with, or near electricity.

The hazards

A voltage as low as 50 volts applied between two parts of the human body can have serious consequences; these include failure of the heart to beat properly, preventing the person from breathing and causing muscle spasms.

The most common injuries come from:

  • Electric shocks and burns from contact with live parts
  • Injury from exposure to arcing, or from fire from faulty equipment
  • Explosions caused by unsuitable equipment, or static electricity ignition due to flammable dusts or vapours

Simple measures to prevent injuries and accidents

Employers should check that all electrical equipment is well designed, in fully working order and appropriate for the job.

If a plug connector is damaged, a cable has been repaired with tape or is not secure, or burn marks are present on the equipment, do not use it.

All employees working with electrical equipment must be fully trained – and it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure this is the case.

Incorrectly wiring a plug can be dangerous and lead to fatal accidents and fires.

Risk assessments should be carried out to assess electrical hazards.

You should consider who could be harmed, how the level of risk has been established and precautions taken to control that risk.

Simple as it sounds, all appliances must be switched off and unplugged before cleaning and adjusting them.

Consider using a RCD between the electricity supply and equipment – especially when working outdoors, or when working within a wet or confined place

Be weary of working under overhead power lines.

Avoid placing equipment underneath them that could come within six metres of the power line – and if this is necessary to complete the job, make sure you’re fully qualified and have gotten the right advice from the line owner.

Remember to always use non-conductive materials too eg. Fibreglass ladders.

Six key points to consider when buying equipment

three ladders

Buy from a reputable brand and supplier.

Ensure you are trained to use the equipment.

Choose the right equipment for the job – consider the atmosphere you will be working in, if you’ll be spending most of your time outside in damp conditions factor this into your product choice.

Be aware that some types of equipment can involve greater risk than others. Extension leads should be avoided where possible due to their increased risks.

Once you’ve purchased your equipment, ensure it’s properly maintained.

Have you been a victim of an electricity-related accident? If so, share your story in the comments below, or tweet us @BrownsLadders

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