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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Electrical Safety tips for work sites

Maralyn Kastel - Friday, July 12, 2013

Most people take electricity for granted. They jam a plug into the wall and go to work without ever giving a thought to the risks they may be taking. Electrical safety must be a priority on all job sites, large or small, inside or out.  Make sure you consult with your workers about the hazards, risk assessments and risk controls on a regular basis.

When a jolt of electricity enters the body, the muscles constrict and the victim cannot move. The current runs through the person and into the ground. The amount of damage caused by such a shock varies widely, but if the voltage is high enough it can cause breathing or heart problems and in some cases death.

To avoid the hazards of electricity, simply follow a few basic safety rules. For example:

  1. Don't overload your outlets
  2. Don't plug one extension cord into another and don't run two cords from the same outlet. These risks can cause wires to overheat and start a fire. 
  3. Always keep electrical leads off the ground to reduce the risks of slips, trips, and falls
  4. Conduct a trip test by the built-in push button of RCD’s before each use
  5. Keep records of RCD tests on site
  6. Performance test the RCD at least once every three months
  7. Test and tag all electrical equipment in accordance with AS/NZS 3760 2010 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment and AS/NZS 5762:2005 In-service safety inspection and testing - Repaired electrical equipment
  8. Electrical installations on construction and demolition sites must comply with AS/NZS 3012 Electrical Installations - Construction and Demolition Sites

An obvious, but often overlooked safety precaution - don't use electricity near water. Once a device contacts water, that water is charged with electricity. This current can be strong enough to kill. Also, if you handle a device while your hands are wet, and the device is faulty, you will get zapped.

There is very specific legislation in the WHS Regulation clauses 164-165 addressing the use of portable electrical equipment on job sites which includes the proper use of residual current devices (RCDs). Make sure you are aware of these requirements to comply with WHS legislation.

To reduce the risk of electrical shock, you must make sure you are wearing proper rubber gloves (AS 2225-1994 Insulating gloves for electrical purposes) when handling electrical equipment, especially devices that may be faulty or not grounded. All PPE must comply with the appropriate Australian Standards.

For more tips and information on electrical and other work place health & safety issues, contact us and let us help you work safer.

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