Practicing good safety habits is key to avoiding workplace electrical shock

When Benjamin Franklin lit up the night sky with his flying electric kite experiment in the mid-1770s, he had little understanding of the incredible impact he was making on the human experience. By unlocking the secrets of conductivity, Franklin opened the doors for humanity to use and channel electricity at will. Today, every facet of our lives is touched by this remarkable achievement. From the warm shower we take in the morning to the dull fluorescent lights that greet us in the office, electricity is used at every part of our day in every industry.

Because electricity is so ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget how dangerous it can be. Workplace electrical injuries are common in every field, and it’s important for employers and workers to be trained on proper electrical safety procedures.

Electrical safety 101

Simply put, the human body is an excellent conductor of electricity. If an electrical current touches a person, it will shock them. This can cause dangerous and painful burns, tissue damage, and heart failure. Even a small electric shock has the potential to be deadly. Sometimes, damage may not be immediately visible. If you or a co-worker has received a shock, it is important to seek medical treatment to ensure injury has not occurred.

Common workplace electrical hazards

Potential hazards vary from workplace to workplace. Different industries and environments will have different levels of risk. Some of the most common hazards are:

  • Faulty wiring
  • Overloaded outlets
  • Poorly maintained equipment
  • Improper use of extension cables
  • Improper use of electrical equipment such as wet hands 

Many of these hazards can be easily avoided by practicing a few simple guidelines when dealing with electricity in the workplace.

Best practices

First and foremost, do not use any equipment that appears faulty, uses frayed cords, or is improperly stored or installed. Proper ventilation and wiring are essential for safe, reliable electricity. 

If you are working in an outdoor area, make sure that the electronic cords and devices are weatherproof according to the region. If you are working in a region with rain or snow, this is extremely important. Water can be very destructive to electronic devices. Even if devices are waterproof, the cords and surge protectors they are connected to may not be. Many devices will show safety ratings on what they can handle

Frayed cords are a big sign that something might be unsafe for use. This could lead to fires under the right circumstances. Sometimes, you might see a cord with tape around it. Please be mindful of these and call a facility manager or ask to replace the cord immediately.

Practice safe electrical cord habits and do not overload outlets or plug in two extension cords together.

Maintain workplace electrical equipment and utilize proper signage for electrical panels.

Know when to consult a professional

When in doubt, call a professional. It is not advisable to try and correct electrical issues without proper training and certification. While it may be tempting to ignore your fraying phone charger or plug together multiple extension cords for convenience, it can have serious consequences. Don’t let yourself or a co-worker become unsafe simply to save some time and effort.

Know when it is time to seek help. If you see sparks coming from an outlet or loud hums that are not usually in the workplace, speak to your workplace building administrator. Take notes of what you have witnessed. What you saw, if you smelled an odor, any sounds and flickering of electronic devices. These notes will help the technician to identify and correct the problem. 

By practicing these habits, you can create a safer workplace environment for using electricity. 

Universal Electrical Services is a full-service, experienced, licensed electrical contractor serving the South Florida community. From healthcare to data centers, the UES team understands that down time can be detrimental for any facility. We believe that no job is too small or big for us. We strive to reduce or eliminate your downtime and solve any challenging power issue.