The Electrical Safety Foundation International is trying to cut the number of workers injured on the job by electrical accidents. According to the nonprofit educational and training organization based in Arlington, Virginia, more than 21,000 U.S. workers have been injured and 1,500 have died in workplace electrical accidents since 2008.
In response to those statistics, the Foundation has released updated safety training materials that include an extensive collection of free, downloadable instructional videos, infographics and practical tips, plus templates and tools employers can use.
“Sixty-four percent of all electrical fatalities on the job occur in occupations that traditionally receive little to no electrical training, such as landscapers, roofers, HVAC technicians, welders, plumbers and truck drivers,” explains ESFI president Brett Brenner. “Our goal is to help employees better understand how easily electrical safety can be incorporated into their daily routines, whether that work takes place in an office, on a job site or in a manufacturing setting.”
While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries, says Brenner, they are disproportionately fatal and costly. Fortunately, most on-the-job electrocutions and electrical injuries can be prevented with proper training. And, he stressed that all electrical work should be completed solely by qualified electrical workers.
Trained electrical workers know the requirements of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, and are experienced in NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. They follow strict safety principles that include daily inspections of the jobsite and equipment.
ESFI offers helpful safety materials including an infographic, entitled “Overhead Power Line Contact,” which explains what a worker should do in case a machine one is using contacts a power line. Safety resources also include an educational video, “Workplace Safety — Always Look Up,” available in English and Spanish.
“Employees are the greatest value of any business, and we want to ensure everyone practices jobsite safety,” concludes Brenner. “Electrical danger is one of the leading causes of workplace injuries and fatalities. We want all workers to practice safety assessments and learn when to stop work to avoid becoming a statistic.”
ESFI was founded in 1994 as a cooperative effort by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Underwriters Laboratories and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. For ESFI’s complete collection of workplace safety resources and for more information on how to use them, visit https://www.esfi.org/workplace-safety.
In the meantime, below are some electrical safety tips from ESFI’s experts.
Before starting work:
- Perform a risk assessment before starting any job.
- Ensure that all electrical conductors and circuit parts are in an electrically safe working condition.
- Gather all the necessary tools to complete a project before starting.
- Ensure that all the necessary parts of a machine are properly guarded to reduce the likelihood of electrical contact or arcing faults.
- Ask your employer for the necessary training and experience for a project to reduce the risk of injury.
Overhead power line safety:
- Locate all power lines before starting any work.
- Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet away from all overhead power lines.
- Never touch anything in contact with a power line.
- Be wary of any fencing near power lines, as fences can conduct electricity if they touch power lines.
- Carry ladders horizontally to reduce the risk of touching power lines.
- Do not spray water or liquid cleaners near any power lines.
- Stay 35 feet away from any fallen power lines.