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Electrical Safety Training

A required reading

Employee required safety training

Please read this document and return as often as you need to remind yourself of the possibilities that these hazards can exist in client homes.

Elementary Electrical Safety

Elementary Electrical Safety Awareness
The National Safety Council has selected May to be National Electrical Safety Month. But why do we need to know about electrical safety? 

According to the National Institute of Health, there are approximately 1,000 deaths per year in the U.S. as a result of electrical injuries. In addition to this, there are at least 30,000 non-fatal shock incidents per year, and approximately 5% of all burn hospital admissions in the country result from electrical injuries.

If millions of people use electricity every day without problems, why should we be concerned about electrical safety in the workplace? That's a valid question!

To answer it, we need to begin with some basics about electricity and explain why workers should take extra care when working with electrical equipment. 

Technically speaking, electricity is the flow of electrons. We can compare it to the flow of water through pipes to understand the relationship among voltage, amperage, and resistance. Voltage is similar to pressure or force. Higher voltage is more likely to cause harm, just as high water pressure is more dangerous than low water pressure.

Amperage is the flow of electricity. Higher amperage means greater volume of electricity, just as large-diameter pipes allow greater water flow compared to small-diameter pipes. Therefore, higher amperage is more likely to cause harm.
Resistance is like restrictions in water pipes. When electricity in a cable encounters resistance, it generates heat. Higher resistance means more heat, which is more likely to cause burns, fires, or damage to machinery.

An electric shock has the potential to cause serious injuries, including death, depending on three factors: the amount of current, the duration of exposure, and the current's path. Additionally, when current enters the body, it takes an unpredictable path before exiting. If it runs close to the chest, there is a higher likelihood of affecting vital organs, like the heart. 
In the workplace, electric shock may occur if you make contact with electrical equipment that is damaged or has poor insulation or when equipment has loose connectors that cause a short-circuit. 

Now, let's address electric plugs. The large, round prong is the grounding prong. It protects users from shock, in the event of an equipment malfunction or short-circuits. If you were to follow this third prong wire all the way back through the electrical outlet, it would lead to a ground. When there’s a malfunction in the equipment, electricity will flow through this grounding prong, through the wire and to ground, and not through the user's body. Electricity always follows the path of least resistance. So, always inspect plugs for the presence of this third prong and don’t use it if missing; report it to the maintenance department.

There are many flammable liquids in work environments that can be ignited by electric sparks or static electricity, causing fires and explosions. Ensure containers are correctly stored and proper procedures, such as bonding and grounding, are followed.
Inspecting electrical cords and cables and report any damage to the maintenance department if you see a cracked, frayed or otherwise damaged cable. Do not wheel materials over electrical cords and do not run electrical cable through windows or doors where they can be pinched/damaged. 
When handling extension cords, keep them away from water and other hazards. Always hold the insulated part of the plug when removing them from wall receptacles. Never pull from the cord.

Avoid overloading electric circuits. Ask your maintenance department to check on all power strips and octopus style adapters in your workplace for excessive heat or overloading. They should calculate the total current drawn by each equipment plugged into the device and ensure it does not exceed 80% of the maximum capacity. 
Stay safe, don't use any defective equipment. If it’s warm or hot, have it looked at immediately. Unplug any equipment if it begins to smoke or if it does not work properly. 

It is impossible to cover all electrical safety information here, but following these basic safety recommendations will significantly enhance the safety of your workplace.

Additional References:
•    OSHA Fact Sheet - Working Safely with Electricity
•    OSHA Publication - Controlling Electrical Hazards
•    Don't be Overwhelmed by Electrical Safety, Be Ec-static! (
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