Most common electrical hazards at work

Modern workplaces are full of electrical equipment, from our kitchens to our desks. The Health and Safety Executive reports around 8,000 electrical accidents at work each year. Many end in serious injuries or even fatalities.

Of course, some workers are more often exposed to electrical hazards. Electricians, and those carrying out electrical work, should have appropriate personal protective equipment and training for their role.

But it’s not just electricians who are at risk and should be wary of their electrical safety. Anybody who works with electrical equipment could potentially be involved in an accident and should make sure that the electrical devices are properly maintained. There are common hazards in every workplace, from overloaded sockets to faulty wiring.

Electrical systems are a critical part of workplace health and safety strategy and an electrical risk assessment should be completed. Employers must provide their staff with a safe working environment. This includes regular electrical risk assessments, as well as professional electrical appliance safety checks and PAT testing.

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The importance of electrical safety

Electrical accidents have severe consequences. The most common electrical hazard injuries include:

  • Electrocution from coming into contact with live electrical parts
  • Electric shock from faulty equipment or accessories
  • Electrical burns – both internal and external – from contact with an electric current
  • Inhaling smoke or fumes from an electrical fire
  • Thermal burns, from being too near overheated electrical appliances or electrical explosions
  • Other effects of electric shocks, including falling from a ladder or being thrown across a room

As these accidents cause life-changing injuries or fatalities, employers should recognise common electrical hazards and take steps to minimise their risk.

 

Overloading sockets

We use more electrical equipment than ever. In offices with multiple computers, plug points are often powering many devices. Many use extension cords to create enough space – potentially leading to overloading sockets. Some even ‘daisy chain’ extension cords through each other. Overloading sockets can lead to overheating and fires, so this practice should be avoided.

 

Damaged equipment

Workers are also at risk from damaged equipment. This can be anything from damaged electrical cords on office devices to faulty power tools on construction sites. Damaged electrical equipment risks electric shock and should never be used.

 

Faulty wiring and improper earthing

Damaged insulation, improper earthing and unsuitable fuses can all cause electrical accidents. Faulty wires and electrical installations could lead to overheating or electric shock, so should only be repaired by a professional.

 

Electricity conductors

Common electrical hazards carry extra risk around conductors. Water, for example, is an excellent conductor. Those working with wet hands or in wet conditions are at a greater risk of electrocution. In these environments, it’s vital to take further precautions, such as ensuring that electrical accessories are rated for the type of environment it is used in.

 

Electrical lines

Working near electric cables is a hazard in itself. Digging carries the risk of hitting underground cables, while staff working at height should be aware of overhead power lines. These overhead lines carry a high voltage electrical current that can cause severe accidents.

 

How we can help

As an employer, you must provide your staff with a safe working environment. We can carry out a complete evaluation of electrical safety standards in your workplace, providing you with a thorough report and next steps. Contact us today for more information.

 

 

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