While most New Year resolutions center around personal matters, we offer some suggestions for resolutions you might want to follow at work.
These electrical safety habits are not listed in order from least to most important, or any other order, for that matter. They are simply a list of some back-to-basics best practices that are taught in our electrical safety training classes. Many of these spark conversations that reveal that some habits are still not practiced regularly.
So consider these resolutions as a kind of “refresher”, a reminder to all of us to continue applying good safety habits, or begin doing them, whether we are at work or at home. The important thing is to DO them.
1. I will test GFCI’s monthly as per manufacturer’s instructions.
Yes, it really does say on the package, “Test Monthly.” Why do I need to do this? Because I don’t know when one may fail – and I don’t want to find out when it’s too late.
SIDE NOTE: GFCIs are required to be installed anywhere there may be contact with water, such as bathrooms, garages, kitchen countertops, unfinished basements, and at exterior outlets. You can find specific requirements in the National Electrical Code by referring to Article 210.8 (2014 version). Of course, always refer to the code version that is legally adopted by your state, and do not forget specialty areas like drinking fountains, vending machines, aircraft hangers, and a host of other locations.
2. I will inspect power strips and extension cords for damage and replace any damaged cords.
Anywhere there are extension cords and heavy equipment in close proximity, there is a chance that the cords will become damaged due to contact, whether it’s intended or unintended. Even if a cord has been in the same place for years and has never caused a problem, I will not assume it’s OK; I will inspect it anyway.
SIDE NOTE: OSHA does not recommend simply taping abrasions and cuts for two reasons:
1) Section 1926.403(a) requires that “all electrical conductors and equipment shall be approved.” As with any repair, items being repaired must be brought up to the item’s listing and labeling parameters. This is impossible to do with damaged extension cord insulation. The only true option is cord replacement once you find insulation damage. As stated in the following OSHA article, slight nicks or abrasions that do not damage the inside conductor insulation are not considered to be a “worn or frayed” condition.
2) The depth of the abrasions and cuts cannot be monitored to see if they get worse without removing the tape.
3. Even when I am certain that the mains are shut off, I will use my electrical gloves to test before touching.
In our electrical safety training, we can never stress enough the importance of this advice.
See our video, “Brian’s Story”. He tells it like it is from first-hand experience.
4. I will exhaust all avenues before attempting to work live or “HOT”.
Working a circuit energized is in most cases not required. We in the industry simply must get away from any hint of “bragging rights” about working on an energized circuit. If at all possible in my work situation, I will de-energize the circuit, verify it dead, and lock it out.
5. I will not rush the process of creating an electrically safe work condition.
No amount of pressure from a supervisor, a customer, or a family member to get the job done quickly, before I feel that the job is safe, is worth my life. I must keep my priorities in check. Too many injuries and fatalities have already occurred in exact situations like these. I do not need to become a statistic.
6. I will maintain my equipment.
If I am uncertain how to do this, I will ask the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) what is required. Just because my plant is a year old doesn’t mean that maintenance is not required.
With a little research, information on required maintenance can be acquired, and adopted into the electrical maintenance program. In the rare cases where this information is not available, resources like NFPA 70B and NETA/MTS 2015 can be used to set up a good maintenance program.
7. I will check my workplace for scene-safety.
I will check for job-site scene safety, looking in all directions for otherwise unseen hazards.
Just like an emergency responder is taught to do on a vehicle accident scene, electrical personnel should follow the same thought process.
8. I resolve to further my knowledge on electrical safety.
My employer has the responsibility of providing PPE and training, and my responsibility is to use those resources in keeping myself safe and encouraging co-workers to do the same. I commit this year to becoming a life-time student of electrical safety.