The construction industry has the highest percentage of electrical fatalities out of all industries.
While electricity is a crucial component in a construction project's success, it poses a risk of harmful shock, horrific burns or fatal electrocution. These accidents can occur when workers come into contact with power lines, wiring, transformers or other electrical machinery.
Fortunately, there are steps that companies can take to minimize the dangers. The following are eight tips on how to improve electrical safety in the construction industry:
1. Provide personal protection - Electrical safety in the industry starts at a personal level. All the electrical work personnel or people working in an area with electrical materials should wear protective gear, such as insulated gloves and footwear. This provides basic safety when they get into contact with electrical equipment, whether accidentally or intentionally.
2. Training in handling electrical equipment - Electrical mishaps can occur when there is misuse or mishandling of electrical equipment. Workers should be trained on how they should handle and operate the equipment safely. Conduct regular training to ensure the workers don't become lax when they use the same equipment.
3. Use proper testing equipment - Proper testing equipment should be part of the essential tools required on a construction site. Voltage detectors, receptacle testers and clamp meters are among the tools every worksite should have to enhance electrical safety and help prevent electrical accidents.
4. The right signage - Lack of awareness can lead to catastrophic electrical accidents. All electrical hazards should be marked to warn your workers of the dangers. The signs should have labels in language and illustrations that can be easily understood by a layman. This way, all the personnel working on the site can take precautions and avoid electrical accidents.
5. Proper risk assessment and planning - Conduct a risk assessment survey of the worksite before operations begin. This will help identify hazards that can compromise electrical safety and allow you to come up with solutions accordingly.
The assessment will also help your team develop a plan on how to lay out electrical infrastructure with safety in mind. A plan will indicate where and how electrical equipment will be placed and how the wiring will be done.
6. Use circuit breakers and voltage regulators - Even with all the planning and precautions, emergencies can occur in case of a power surge, short-circuit or any other electrical issue. That's why it's essential to have circuit breakers and voltage regulators to cut off power during such situations.
The ability to regulate or shut down power supply on time during a crisis can avert catastrophic damage and loss of life on a site.
7. Avoid wet conditions - Electrical equipment and infrastructures in the worksite should be shielded from coming into contact with water at all costs. This should be done during the planning process. When the equipment comes into contact with water, the power supply should be cut off immediately and later turned back on a professional electrician's recommendation.
8. Organize and insulate all exposed cables - A construction area should never have messy or uncovered power cables. When unorganized, the cables can contact each other, resulting in short-circuiting and possibly fire. If left uncovered, workers may accidentally touch them, leading to shock or electrocution.
Cover all cables in a construction site with appropriate insulating material and organize the cables to enhance electrical safety.
While overall safety is a significant concern in the construction industry, electrical safety can be contained if the right measures are implemented.
The above tips can help construction firms to boost electrical safety in their operations. However, all the parties on a construction site must be diligent for maximum electrical safety.