Every workplace is subject to internal and external rules and regulations. Even if your company has no official safety policies and procedures, you must meet or exceed all applicable government regulations to work lawfully. Ask your supervisor, or do an internet search on your government website to learn more about safe work policies in your country.
The leading causes of workplace accidents are
Everything on this list has something in common - each list item is completely preventable. If you catch yourself thinking,
"I don't need to grab my PPE - I'll just fix this quickly."
"No one else is around so I don't have to lockout-tagout."
remember, that's what the beginning of an accident sounds like.
When you are working in an industrial environment, have a safety plan for the job you are about to perform. This includes
In addition to whatever standard PPE is called for by your work environment, you may also be required to wear flame resistant clothing. Burns are one of the most serious hazards of electrical work, and a burn will become much more severe if your clothing ignites.
Give some thought to the fabrics that you wear under your flame resistant outerwear. Avoid fabrics such as untreated cotton, polyesters, nylons and especially polycotton. These materials ignite easily and melt readily. Even as your flame resistant PPE does its job and shields you from the worst of a flame, you can sustain severe burns if the clothing you are wearing next to your skin ignites and melts.
Non-conductive footwear is always a good idea. Electrical shock is such a common hazard that many standards bodies around the world require footwear to meet non-conductive standards in order to be certified. Check the certification on your shoes or boots to be sure.
These marks indicate that the shoe or boot meet CSA or ASTM standards for protection against electric shock. If there is metal (or another conductive material) in the sole or heel, it is insulated from contact with the ground and your skin. Note that insulating properties may degrade with wear.
This mark features the letters "SD", which indicates that the shoe or boot dissipates static discharge.
Do NOT get these two marks mixed up! A static-dissipative boot conducts electricity, so it is worse than useless as shock protection!
Always verify the meaning of any safety marks on your ppe by reviewing the literature included by the manufacturer. It should state which standards, and which version of those standards your PPE conforms to.
Electrical energy can be very destructive. Accidents can end with a human injury and/or equipment damage. It is the responsibility of every worker to know where the electrical energy is and how to control it and work safely around it.
In a worst case scenario, only 10 volts hand-to-hand, or 21 volts hand-to-foot, could produce a fatal current. It is relatively rare to be electrocuted by voltages under 100 volts, but a 1995 study done in China documented 10 cases of death by electrocution at voltages between 25 and 85 volts.
Remember, it is the current flow through the body that causes the burning and destruction of body tissue, rather than the voltage supply.
|Current||Effect on Human Body|
|1 mA or less||No sensation, not felt|
|More than 3 mA||Painful shock|
|More than 10 mA||Local muscle contractions; 2.5% of the population will not be able to let go|
|More than 15 mA||Local muscle contractions; 50% of the population will not be able to let go|
|More than 30 mA||Breathing difficulty, can cause unconsciousness|
|50 to 100 mA||Possible ventricular fibrillation of the heart|
|100 to 200 mA||Certain ventricular fibrillation of the heart|
|Over 200 mA||Severe burns, muscular contractions, heart stops, then fibrillates|
|Over a few amperes||Irreparable damage to body tissues|
The value shown in the chart are approximate. Responses are individual, and can vary slightly depending all kinds of variables, such as your level of hydration, the degree of moisture and salt on your skin, and, of course, the amount of insulation offered by your footwear.
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