Electricity is so familiar a force, your employees may think they know all its mysteries. Not so—and what they don’t know can kill them.
It turned out that a worker doing equipment checks at a substation had, against company policy, disabled two protective devices on the system. Much was said about how the system was vulnerable. But the worker, who was suspended, was likely vulnerable, too.
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That’s because electricity, when freed from its bounds by equipment defect—or more often, lapses in safety procedure—is the fifth largest workplace killer, causing over 400 fatalities a year in a recent 12-year span. Many more workers suffered burns and damage to internal organs, often in a fraction of a second. Why does it happen? Are there ways to stop it?
“The reason it happens is lack of understanding about electricity,” say the authors of the BLR program, Total Training Resource: Electrical Safety. “That can lead to a careless attitude around this potentially deadly force.”
Among the leading misconceptions workers have:
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For all these reasons, OSHA demands that your workforce be divided into qualified and nonqualified classifications when it comes to working with energized parts or equipment.
Qualified persons are the only ones allowed to work on or even come near exposed electrified circuits and require specific training to do so. But even nonqualified workers face risk of some degree every time they plug in, turn on, or even come near an electrical device.
We’ll present some key safety steps all workers should follow regarding electricity, both at work and home, in tomorrow’s Advisor.