The Dangers of Being An Electrician
The dangers of being an electrician can vary with the type of work you’re performing. Electricians are on the front line of dangerous jobs along with firefighters, loggers, deep sea fishermen, construction laborers, and tractor-trailer truck drivers.
Depending on construction deadlines and customer expectations, electricians are sometimes put into stressful situations in order to complete certain jobs or tasks faster than normal.
Electrician Dangers and Risks
Installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems comes with its fair share of dangers – which aren’t always electrical hazards.
- Danger of lethal electrical shock.
- Danger of electrical smolders.
- Exposure to lead, solvents, and other toxic chemicals
- Fire and explosions.
- Working in small or tight spaces.
- Welding risks, including UV radiation.
- Extreme temperatures – both hot and cold.
- Cuts and abrasions from working with knives and equipment with sharp edges.
- Asbestos, mold, and other microbes in older buildings.
- Danger of disease from birds or rat droppings.
- Working at in the same position for a long period of time.
- Danger of eye damage from flying particles.
- Slips, trips, and falls.
- Working with different hand devices, power apparatuses and hardware.
- Movement work or broadened work days.
- Working alone.
What’s the Difference Between Electric Shock and Being Electrocuted?
Electrocuted means death has occurred from electricity. Electric shock is when someone is exposed to an electric current but hasn’t died.
Pretty simple right? Kind of.
Being shocked is one of the most serious dangers of being an electrician. Let’s take a look at what being shocked can do.
- Severe burns – WARNING: This link has graphic images
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart rhythm problems
- Cardiac arrest
- Muscle pain and contractions
- Loss of consciousness
It only takes a small amount of current to kill. That’s right current, not voltage.
How Electricity Causes Burns
Electrical burns are a result from electricity passing through the body. The majority of the damage is on the surface of the skin, but sometimes the burns go deeper causing nerve damage.
There are a number of different types of burns that can be caused by electricity but I want to you focus on two – low voltage and arc burns.
Low-voltage burn – When contact with a voltage source of 500 volts or less is made. Depending on how long the exposure is, the burns could be mild, superficial.
Arc burn – An arc burn occurs when electrical energy goes from a high to a low resistance area. With an arc burn the electricity ionizes air particles and the heat that is produced can be over 2000 degrees C. This amount of heat can vaporize metal which means regular clothing doesn’t stand a chance.
How To Work Safely As An Electrician
Safety isn’t just the employers responsibility, its YOUR responsibility.
Following the correct procedures for using equipment is a huge first step in reducing an accident from happening.
Not only is following correct procedures important, training is equally if not more important.
Employers are required by OHSA to provide certain levels of safety training to their employees to help ensure they understand the dangers within their trade.
YOU also need to be safety conscious!
As a safety conscious person you need to know your limitations and when to speak up.
- Electrical safety
- Lock-out/tag-out all equipment – electrical and mechanical
- Confined spaces entry – following proper protocol and using PPE
- Working from mechanical lifts
- Working on ladders
- Lifting with knees, not your back. And know when to ask for help.
- Use hand tools and power tools following the manufacturers recommendations
- Fire safety
- Use, maintain and store personal protective equipment according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Learn about chemical hazards, WHMIS and MSDSs.
- Know how to report a hazard.
- Follow good housekeeping procedures.
- Follow company safety rules.
Electrical Safety – What is Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO)?
The persons in this video did not follow proper LOTO procedures.
Lock out tag out (LOTO) is a combination of two safety procedures mixed into one.
Lockout is physically locking an energy-isolating device (electrical or mechanical) and putting it into a safe mode or de-energized state. The energy-isolating device could be a switch (off) or a circuit breaker (open).
Most circuit breakers have some type of loop or tab that either sticks out or can be pulled out so a lock can be installed.
Tag out is adding a label when locking out a device is needed. Tagging out involves attaching a standard label that includes the following:
- Why the LOTO out is required (repair or maintenance).
- Time of putting on the lock and tag.
- The name of whoever put the tag and lock to the system.
The information on the tag is to help anyone not involved in the process understands why the lock is on the equipment.
What if the person who put the lock on is no longer employed with the company? Can you cut the lock off?
It is NEVER OK to cut a lock off in a LOTO situation. Someone’s life could be at stake.
Every company should have a written policy or procedure on how to deal with a lock that doesn’t have an owner.
Who Is Responsible for Lock Out / Tag Out?
Everyone in the workplace has a responsibility in the lockout program. In general:
Employers are usually responsible for:
- Providing a written program that is reviewed periodically.
- Including who and what equipment could be affected by the program
- Providing the necessary personal protective equipment and hardware.
- Tracking and confirming the program is being followed correctly.
Supervisors are responsible for:
- Handing out personal protective equipment (PPE), locks, tags, and any other equipment needed by employees.
- Making sure that only properly trained employees perform service or maintenance that require lockout.
- Ensure employees follow the company’s LOTO procedures when required.
Employees are responsible for:
- Helping develop equipment-specific procedures that ensure safety.
- Following the procedures that have been developed.
- Reporting any problems with the procedures and equipment.
Remember that the dangers of being an electrician are real. But with good training following proper procedures you should have a safe and lengthy career.
If there’s something in this article that I missed please leave a comment below.