Electrical Safety

Electrical Safety – Basic Information

The voltage of electricity and the available electrical current can be fatal. Even changing a light bulb without unplugging the lamp can be hazardous if contact is made with the “hot”, “energised” or “live” part of the socket.

All electrical systems have the potential to cause harm. Electricity can be either “static” or “dynamic.” Dynamic electricity is the uniform motion of electrons through a conductor (this is known as electric current). Conductors are materials through which electricity can pass. Most metals are conductors. The human body is also a conductor.

Note: Static electricity is the accumulation of charge on surfaces as a result of contact and friction with another surface. This contact/friction causes an accumulation of electrons on one surface and a deficiency of electrons on the other surface.

Electric current cannot exist without an unbroken path to and from the conductor. Electricity will form a path or loop. When you plug in a device (e.g. a power tool), the electricity takes the easiest path from the plug-in to the tool and back to the power source. This is also known as creating or completing an electrical circuit.

People are injured when they become part of the electrical circuit. Humans are more conductive than the ground we stand on, which means if there is no other easy path, electricity will try to flow through our bodies.

There are four main types of injuries:

  • Electrocution (Fatal)
  • Electric Shock
  • Burns
  • Falls

  • Inspect portable cord-and-plug connected equipment, extension cords, power bars and electrical fittings for damage or wear before each use. Repair or replace damaged equipment immediately.
  • Always tape extension cords to walls or floors when necessary. Nails and staples can damage extension cords causing fire and shock hazards.
  • Use extension cords or equipment that is rated for the level of amperage or wattage that you are using.
  • Always use the correct size fuse. Replacing a fuse with one of a larger size can cause excessive currents in the wiring and possibly start a fire.
  • Be aware that unusually warm or hot outlets may be a sign that unsafe wiring conditions exists. Unplug any cords or extension cords to these outlets and do not use until a qualified electrician has checked the wiring.
  • Always use ladders made with non-conductive side rails (e.g., fiberglass) when working with or near electricity or power lines.
  • Place halogen lights away from combustible materials such as cloths or curtains. Halogen lamps can become very hot and may be a fire hazard.
  • Know where the panel and circuit breakers are located in case of an emergency.
  • Label all circuit breakers and fuse boxes clearly. Each switch should be positively identified as to which outlet or appliance it is for.
  • Do not use outlets or cords that have exposed wiring.
  • Do not use portable cord-and-plug connected power tools with the guards removed.
  • Do not block access to panels and circuit breakers or fuse boxes.
  • Do not touch a person or electrical apparatus in the event of an electrical accident. Always disconnect the power source first.

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