Those who work with electricity generally develop a healthy respect for its power and dangers; those who don’t often don’t live to tell the tale. But we can all use reminders now and then. National Electrical Safety Month, held in May and sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), is a good time to review safety practices and procedures when it comes to working with electrical current.
Founded in 1994, the ESFI was created to promote electrical safety at home, at school, and in the workplace. Their annual campaign is meant to educate all of us about the appropriate safety procedures to use when working with it. One of the groups they focus on is workers who are around electrical current routinely.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, for the period 2003 through 2010, 1,738 workers died due to contact with electrical current. Contact with current is the sixth-likeliest cause of workplace death.
Of those fatalities, the construction industry had the largest number of deaths, with 849. Additional facts to consider include:
- More than 32 percent of all fatalities due to electricity are centered in only five occupations: electricians, construction laborers, roofers, painters, and carpenters.
- Electrical power line workers suffered 8 percent of the fatalities.
- Tree trimmers accounted for 5 percent of the deaths.
Contact with power lines was the leading cause of fatal injuries for the time period.
Avoiding Mishaps on the Job
The ESFI wants you to know that the following suggestions can help keep you safe on the job:
- Keep ladders away from power lines. Even wooden ones that contact a line can kill you.
- Avoid water and damp conditions when working around electricity.
- When using power tools, watch out for broken plugs, frayed cords, cracked housings, and other risks.
When it comes to working around power lines, be aware of the following:
- The ESFI reminds all workers that power lines these days can be below ground as well as above.
- Look up, down, and all around for electrical hazards. For example, you may not be working on a line, but you may be carrying a ladder or scaffolding and touch a line by accident.
- If you’re in a crane, bucket truck, or dump truck, you should keep well away from any lines and remain aware of exactly where the lines are in relation to you and your equipment.
- Construction workers make up 7 percent of the workforce, but experience 44 percent of all electricity-related deaths. Safety experts recommend staying at least 10 feet from any power lines.
Finally, if you work with electricity on a regular basis:
- Assume all circuits are live until you test them. Always test before you touch.
- Use lockout/tagout procedures every single time before you service electrical equipment.
- Be wary of arc flashes, which can occur when electrical contacts are accidentally bridged by an object that conducts electricity. Arc flashes can cause severe burns.
- Always wear your personal protective equipment (PPE).
The National Electrical Code
It is important for workers to know that Maryland is one of the states that have adopted the 2014 National Electrical Code (NEC), which is the latest version. The NEC collects within one standardized body of codes the minimum requirements for safely working with electrical installations. Even though it is not itself a law or a series of laws, the use of the NEC is mandated in Maryland, as it is in many states, though the version year of the NEC may vary. In fact, only three states have not adopted the NEC at all—Arizona, Mississippi, and Missouri.
Where the NEC has been adopted, using anything less than its standards is illegal.
Injured on the Job? Call A Local Baltimore Work Injury Lawyer.
Equipment malfunctions, co-worker negligence, and bad decisions can place workers at risk. Steve Heisler has devoted 25 years to helping injured people and their families pursue compensation from those who caused them to be injured. Steve approaches each case with compassion and thorough investigation, leaving no stone unturned in his goal of obtaining justice for persons harmed by the actions or inactions of negligent employers, manufacturers and sub-contractors. If you or your loved one has been injured or killed in a work-related accident anywhere in Maryland, call the Baltimore injury lawyers of the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler today at (410) 625-4878, or use our online contact form. The initial consultation is always free.