Safety 101: OSHA’s Guide to Electrical Safety

Electrical safety practices are a key part of OSHA’s training curriculum. With a high number of potential hazards on the worksite, OSHA’s standards provide a comprehensive guide to keeping employees safe from electric shock, electrocution, fires, explosions, and other risks. Electricians are generally highly trained and skilled in spotting potential dangers. However, workers who do not regularly deal with electricity must also be aware of live wires and other hazards on any site. Here’s a brief overview of OSHA’s electrical safety training:  

Types of Electrical Injuries

What are the dangers around electricity and the most common injuries related to it? OSHA divides injuries into two buckets: direct and indirect. Direct injuries include electrocution, electrical shock, and burns. Indirect injuries include those that may result from an electric shock, such as a fall that causes broken bones or a heart attack.

Electrical Hazards and How to Control Them

Electrical accidents are caused by a combination of unsafe factors – including equipment and/or installation, the work environment – and onsite practices. OSHA’s curriculum features a visual representation of all potential hazards and how to control them. Those hazards include, but are not limited to, inadequate wiring, exposed electrical parts, wires with bad insulation, and ungrounded electrical systems or tools. The controls for these hazards provide information on proper grounding, using GFCI’s, fuse and circuit breakers, and guarding live parts.

Safety-Related Work Practices

This section of OSHA’s training relates to some standard worksite practices to protect against electrical shock. These include the use of barriers and guards to prevent passage through areas of exposed energized equipment, pre-plan work, post hazard warnings, and NFPA 70E Arc flash and blast hazards. Additionally, it discusses the importance of using insulated tools to work with energized terminals and proper use of extension cords.

Personal Protective Equipment

As with all work in construction, proper personal protective equipment is imperative to safely working with electricity. At all times, workers must ensure they are wearing regulation foot protection and an insulated hard hat. When working with electricity, it’s also crucial to have rubber insulated gloves, hoods, sleeves, matting, and blankets.