Employees are a company’s greatest asset. Without their creativity and productivity, companies would suffer and eventually fail. There are many ways an employer can support and encourage employees to be creative and productive, and foremost on that list would be providing a good electrical safety training program.¹
Those who work around electrical equipment face many hazards, which can lead to electric shock and/or arc flash injuries, and in the worst case, fatalities. Electricians already know this and have most probably received training on how to mitigate those hazards. Non-electricians – such as production workers operating switches, mechanics performing maintenance duties, or telecommunication workers pulling fiber optic cables on shared power poles – also need training on electrical hazards and mitigation.
Let’s look at some advantages for training your non-electrical workers to specific task-qualified levels:
The right training reduces the non-electrician’s chances of getting shocked or injured by an arc flash. Knowing how to safely perform a task, understanding what not to do or touch, and wearing the appropriate PPE is critical information to be trained on. A demonstration of skills by performing the task correctly is not only required by OSHA [see 1910.332(b)(1); 1910.332(b)(3)(i)-(iii); and 1910.399, definition of “qualified person”], but will also help cement that information. When workers know what they’re supposed to do, they get the job done safely, and can encourage coworkers to work safely around electrical equipment.
It is vital for all workers, including non-electrical employees, to understand NFPA 70E®, as well as other consensus standards. Realize that these standards are minimum standards; there are also industry best practices to consider. What has your company decided to include in its Electrical Safety Program (ESP) – the minimal practices, best practices, or a mix of both?
Consistency on the job has several advantages. First, everyone involved is knowledgeable on the correct steps in performing a task. There should be no question as to how to do that specific task and no reason for taking shortcuts. Consistent training for all workers who need to be task-qualified helps achieve consistency in performance.
Consistency in job performance is also achieved when employees know their company’s policy concerning electrical safety. What does the company require the worker to wear while performing an electrical task? What are the consequences for not complying with company policy? A written Electrical Safety Program will contain that information and is vital for every company to have.²
Agreement is key. When there is disagreement or a question on how things should be done safely, get out the documentation. Look through the training manual that was provided during class. Refer to your company’s ESP and/or the NFPA 70E®.
At the risk of oversimplifying the argument for task-specific training, let me add that “proper” training is just what its definition states: genuine and appropriate. Good training applies current rules and standards and should be taught in ways to allow workers to remember the rules and demonstrate to a supervisor or manager that they can perform the skill(s) necessary to complete the task.
When proper electrical task-specific training is implemented, workers are armed with the knowledge on how to do that task safely, allowing them and co-workers to go home at the end of day free of electrical injuries. This should be the goal of any company’s electrical safety policy.
¹ e-Hazard can provide training for task-qualified operators in a classroom setting or by video purchase or rental.