Always Think Safety First! Electricity Kills More than Most Hazards

When it comes to doing simple or repetitive electrical tasks, why are people more apt to take risks?

  • being in a hurry
  • feeling pressure to get the job done
  • not wanting to inconvenience someone else

The act of changing a light bulb in a ceiling fixture becomes hazardous when an unsteady chair is used to stand on or the electrical contacts are touching in an old fluorescent design. How many times have we used (or seen someone else use) a vacuum cleaner with a damaged cord instead of taking the time to at least wrap the nicked wire with electrical tape? I’m guilty of climbing ladders in my bare feet, not wanting to take the extra time to find my athletic shoes and put them on. Using more than one extension cord to use that same vacuum cleaner, or not verifying an outlet is dead before working on it, or even plugging in too many things into the same outlet and thus overloading the circuit – all these scenarios are potentially hazardous and yet are easily rectified.

Unfortunately, this attitude of convenience first and safety second seeps into the workplace. A work culture that does not respect safety in general can also breed a subculture of ignoring electrical hazards. Being at a job site where risks are taken and no accidents occur as a result exacerbates the attitude of complacency –  – why should habits change if nothing bad has happened yet? The worker then carries around a mistaken feeling of invincibility.

NIOSH 98.131 shows the statistics of electrocution by age. The age group most likely to get electrocuted on the job is the 25 to 34-year-old group. By this age, the worker has typically been working for a while and is no longer afraid (respectful) of the power of electricity. Electrical workers usually have a drive to get the job done. With these two factors combined, caution can be easily thrown aside. Add into the mix a distraction or two, and the odds of an accident happening go even higher.

There are too many examples of complacency in the workplace, most of which will never come to light because nothing bad happened, and few workers are willing to admit they took a risk (you know who you are). However, we are reminded of the consequences of complacency when we see stories about a worker getting hurt or dying on the job. We post some of those accidents on this blog, hopefully to get someone’s attention and prevent injuries or death at his/her own workplace.

Don’t allow complacency or convenience to rule.  Think ahead; think of safety first!

Click here to watch a four-minute video “7 Electrical Safety Habits” by Hugh Hoagland from e-Hazard.com.

Author’s Note: e-Hazard want to help you keep workers safe around electrical equipment. Find out more about an Electrical Safety Program, Audits, Electrical Safety Training, and more by reading our articles on the e-Hazard Safety Cycle™. (added Nov. 2017)

Elisa Sellars

Elisa Sellars

Elisa has a background in education and language. She writes for the e-Hazard blog and is the adult education consultant for Train the Trainer classes.

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