Special Topics in Safety Management

Electrical Safety Training: Lifesaving Tips

Electrical safety is mostly about observing simple precautions. Here are some, along with a versatile and comprehensive training program to teach them—or have trainees teach themselves.

Yesterday’s Advisor gave your employees some information that might shock them, literally.

With information from the BLR program Total Training Resource: Electrical Safety, we noted that many fall prey to common myths about electricity: Consider the mistaken notion that common 110–120 volt household current isn’t really that dangerous or that if you don’t touch an energized circuit, you can’t be affected. In fact, household current can kill, and high-voltage electricity can leap through open air in a blinding arc flash three times as hot as the sun!

Today, let’s supply some key points workers can use to keep safe around electricity.

–Use electrical equipment as it was designed to be used. Workers are prone to taking shortcuts that can lead to a short circuit—right through their bodies. They must never use extension cords as a permanent supply line and never run them under carpeting or tack them to a wall. Cords should never be used for hanging or pulling objects, nor should three-pronged plugs be modified to fit a two-pronged outlet. And, of course, cords designed for indoor use should never be used outdoors.

Need to train on electrical safety? Get both CBT interactive and PowerPoint® programs in BLR’s Total Training Resource: Electrical Safety. Try it at no cost. Click for details.

–Inspect electrical equipment before use. Obvious hazards are broken or frayed insulation or loose connections. But any sign of electrical trouble, including labored-sounding motors, smoke, or odor, is cause to immediately take the unit out of service and tag it for repair or replacement.

–Stay away from moisture. Electrical equipment should never be used when moisture is present. Even sweaty hands can be a danger. Most workers know that a wet metal floor is dangerous but, surprisingly, so is concrete, which is actually a good conductor when wet.

–Get on the ground! Whenever possible, electrical devices, and especially portable power tools, should be grounded. Specialized circuits such as ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) should be used. But precautions need to be taken even when there’s no source of power involved. That’s because there’s static discharge in the air.

While transferring flammable liquids, for example, use grounding wires on the drums, or ground by other means. Also, fill those popular red plastic gasoline jugs on a stable, nonconducting surface. The static caused by plastic rubbing against the metal bed of a pickup truck can spark a fire or explosion.

–Use PPE when working on electrical devices. Only qualified workers who have received OSHA-required training can work on high-voltage equipment, but any worker dealing with exposed circuits should wear protective rubber gloves and a face shield to protect against arcing, even when the power is off. The work should ideally be done wearing rubber-soled shoes and standing on an insulated mat.

–If an incident happens. Workers should never touch the victim directly but, instead, use a nonconducting stick or pole to remove the person from the power source. Minor burns are treatable with first aid. CPR or other lifesaving techniques may be needed for bad shocks. A lack of visible burns does not mean there’s no internal body damage, so call for medical help fast! What’s more, never try to stop an electrical fire with water. Use a C-rated extinguisher instead.

A program to keep workers safe

At this point, we’d like to put a “plug” in (pun intended) for the program most of this information came from: BLR’s Total Training Resource: Electrical Safety. We’ve seen many training programs on this topic, but never one so comprehensive or user-friendly.

Try Total Training Resource: Electrical Safety at no cost or risk. Click for info.

The heart of the program is a 56-slide computer-based training module that’s both completely self-directed and interactive. Trainees drag and drop; move answers around physically on the screen; identify workers doing dumb, dangerous moves; and take tests that don’t let them complete the module until they’ve learned it. When they do, they can print out their own certificate of achievement. And they can do it all whether or not you are present.

In addition, the term “total” in the name reflects a vault full of supplementary material, starting with a complete and customizable PowerPoint program for group or supervised learning. Both the CBT and PowerPoint are then enhanced by exercises, handouts, trainer’s notes, sign-in sheets, and more, plus the complete 29 CFR 1910 and 1926 regs on electrical safety, in readable type, and a plain-English analysis of exactly how to comply.

We strongly recommend this program, but you can judge it for yourself by trying it with your own workers for a month. Click here and we’ll arrange it. You just might be “shocked” (in a good way) by how much they learn.