The Most Common Electrical Hazards at Work and How to Prevent Them

Electrical injuries in the workplace can be serious or even fatal. Between 2001 and 2020, there were 25 deaths that have been associated with a work activity. Injuries can range from electrical burns to thermal burns, both of which can be very severe.

Electric shocks can also be extremely dangerous. According to the HSE, a voltage as low as 50 volts applied between two parts of the human body can block electric signals between the brain and muscles. The health impacts of this include muscle spasms, stopping the heart from beating properly or stopping the person from breathing. There are many fatality cases caused by fires that have been triggered by electricity too.

Here’s how you can help to prevent electrical hazards in the workplace.

Safe equipme nt and how to maintain it

All electrical equipment in the workplace should be safe to use, in line with the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989). This includes completing any necessary checks before electrical equipment is brought onto the premises. Everything should be installed and maintained by a qualified professional.

On top of this, equipment needs to be regularly inspected for faults and if required repaired by a professional. Accidents can stem from people harming themselves while trying to repair an electrical device themselves.

Regular inspection of cords and cables

When it comes to cords and cables in the workplace, look out for labels that confirm whether the product has been tested. You can also check the back of the packaging for safety information. Faulty cords and cables can be extremely dangerous.

If they are frayed or worn in any way, the wires inside will become exposed. This could result in electric shocks if you come into contact with these wires. You should ensure that you invest in good quality cables such as those from RS to minimise this risk at work.

Employee awareness and other tips

Education is critical when it comes to safety in the workplace. Consider regular training sessions if you feel this will improve the way people navigate the workplace. Let employees know that all risks should be reported. This might look like a frayed wire, an unsecured plug or overheating equipment. Even if a piece of electrical equipment isn’t working properly, this should be reported.

Most importantly, any issues that have been flagged should be addressed by a licensed electrician only. Employees should not try to fix an issue themselves, otherwise, this could lead to a serious accident.

General tips include switching off and unplugging appliances that aren’t in use and if possible, turning off appliances at the end of the day. Employees should also refrain from forcing a plug into an outlet if it won’t fit.

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