Posted on: May 30, 2023

Electrical Safety Tips: How to Reduce Electric Shock Hazards

Electrical Safety Tips

Construction workers exposed to electricity are aware of the potential dangers that come with working around electrical systems and equipment. Your job requires navigating complex electrical installations, wiring, and power sources, making it essential to always prioritize safety. One of the most critical aspects of your work is mitigating the risk of electric shock hazards. 

In this blog, we will focus on providing electrical construction safety tips. We understand the unique challenges and hazards you face daily want to equip you with the knowledge and electrical safety practices necessary to minimize electric shock risks on the job. 

What Is Electrical Construction? 

Electrical work in construction refers to the process of installing, assembling, and maintaining electrical systems and infrastructure in various settings, such as residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. It involves the planning, design, and installation of electrical components, wiring, fixtures, and equipment to ensure the safe and efficient distribution of electricity.

Electrical construction encompasses a wide range of activities, including the installation of: 

  • Electrical panels 
  • Circuit breakers 
  • Wiring systems 
  • Grounding and bonding systems 
  • Lighting fixtures 
  • Outlets 
  • Switches 

It also involves integrating specialized electrical systems like fire alarms, security systems, and communication networks. 

Workers who handle and maintain electrically powered equipment adhere to electrical safety as a fundamental practice. It involves following a set of guidelines aimed at mitigating electrical hazards and preventing the potentially dangerous consequences of an incident. Failing to comply with electrical safety measures can result in accidents, near misses, or even fatalities. 

What Are the Electrical Hazards in Construction? 

Electrical hazards on construction sites refer to the several electrical risks that workers face and need to take precautions against. These hazards can pose significant risks and potential for electric shock incidents. 

Here are some electric shock hazard examples in the construction industry. 

Contact With Live Wires 

Accidental contact with live wires during construction activities, such as drilling, digging, or demolition, can result in electric shocks or electrocution. Electric shock occurs when the human body comes into contact with an electric current. 

Inadequate Grounding 

Improper equipment grounding stands out as the most frequent OSHA electrical violation. Improper grounding of electrical equipment or systems can lead to the buildup of electrical charges, increasing the risk of electric shock if touched. It is crucial to never remove the metallic ground pin, as it plays a vital role in safely returning unwanted voltage to the ground.

Overhead Power Lines 

Working near overhead power lines without proper precautions can be extremely dangerous. Overhead power lines carry high voltages that pose a significant risk of severe burns and electrocution to workers. Accidental contact or proximity to these power lines can cause severe electric shocks or fatal injuries. It is crucial to maintain a minimum distance of 10 feet from overhead power lines and adjacent equipment to ensure safety.

Temporary Power Systems 

The setup and use of temporary power systems on construction sites can introduce electrical hazards if not installed, maintained, and operated correctly. Faulty connections, damaged cables, or inadequate grounding can result in electric shock risks.

Damaged or Exposed Wiring 

Construction sites often involve rough environments that can cause damage to electrical wiring. Exposed or damaged wiring increases the chances of electric shock hazards for workers. Conduct a comprehensive inspection for cracks, cuts, or abrasions on cables, wires, and cords. It is crucial to utilize the appropriate wire that is suitable for the specific operation and electrical load being worked on, to ensure that items are adequately secured with appropriate guarding mechanisms, and to regularly inspect for any exposed parts that require immediate repair. 

Wet Conditions 

Construction sites are prone to wet conditions due to weather or the nature of the work. However, never operate electrical equipment in wet conditions. Water increases the risk of electrical accidents since water is a conductor of electricity. 

Damaged Insulation

Inadequate or faulty insulation poses a significant hazard. It is important to stay vigilant for any signs of damaged insulation and promptly report it. Before replacing damaged insulation, always ensure that all power sources are turned off. Never attempt to cover damaged insulation with electrical tape.

Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

Exposure to faulty electrical equipment and tools can be very dangerous. Insufficient or improper use of personal protective equipment, such as insulated gloves, safety boots, or helmets, leaves construction workers more vulnerable to electric shock hazards. 

Insufficient Training and Awareness 

Lack of proper electrical safety training and awareness among construction workers can contribute to an increased risk of electrical accidents. Understanding the potential hazards and following safety protocols is crucial for mitigating risks.

Working at Heights 

Construction work often involves working at heights, which can bring workers close to power lines. Failure to maintain proper clearance or use appropriate safety measures can result in electric shock incidents. 

Inadequate Lockout/Tagout Procedures 

Lack of proper lockout/tagout procedures when servicing or repairing electrical equipment can lead to unexpected energization, putting workers at risk of electric shock. Before conducting any electrical maintenance or repairs, it is imperative to always follow Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) procedures. These procedures are in place to safeguard all workers present on the worksite. 

Electrical Safety Tips

When it comes to electrical safety, implementing proper electricity safety precautions and following guidelines is crucial to minimize the risk of accidents. Here are some electrical safety tips to consider: 

Avoid Water Contact 

Keep electrical appliances and equipment away from water sources to prevent electric shocks. Never operate electrical devices with wet hands, and ensure that your work area is dry when handling electrical components.

Inspect Cords and Plugs 

Regularly check power cords, plugs, and outlets for signs of damage, such as fraying, exposed wires, or loose connections. Damaged cords and plugs should be replaced immediately to prevent electrical hazards.

Properly Store Cables 

Avoid running electrical cords across walkways or under carpets, as they can become tripping hazards or suffer damage. Use cable management solutions, such as cord covers or cable trays, to keep cords organized and out of the way.

Use Appropriate Wattage 

Ensure that light bulbs and electrical appliances are using the correct wattage as recommended by the manufacturer. Using bulbs with wattage exceeding the fixture's capacity can lead to overheating and electrical fires.

Unplug When Not in Use 

When appliances and devices are not in use, unplug them from outlets. This practice reduces the risk of electrical malfunctions and prevents energy wastage.

Use Safety Equipment 

When working with electricity, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as insulated gloves, safety glasses, and flame-resistant clothing to protect yourself from potential hazards.

Use Testing Equipment 

To prevent electric shocks and potentially fatal electrocutions, it is essential to utilize approved electrical power testing equipment. This enables you to accurately assess the level of risk associated with a particular operation.

Have Regular Inspections 

Schedule periodic inspections of your electrical systems by qualified professionals to identify and address potential hazards or electrical issues. 

Provide OSHA Construction Training 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides comprehensive training programs on electrical safety for workers in various industries. It is highly recommended to undergo electrical safety training to gain knowledge about potential hazards, safety procedures, and best practices in electrical work. 

Electrical safety is a shared responsibility. Construction workers and employers need to provide comprehensive training to prevent electrical accidents. Take your electrical safety training with a trusted and OSHA-authorized provider

Enroll in OSHA training today, or contact us for more information!