Electrical Hazards: On the Job and In Your Business
As part of the daily job, electricians face a variety of electrical hazards in the field. In your own electrician business, your workers need to protect themselves and others with a few key safety precautions. You also need to protect your business as it grows.
Here's a quick look at four of the top electrical hazards — on and off the job — electricians should watch out for and make employees are aware of:
1. Electrical Shocks
According to data compiled by the Fire Protection Research Foundation and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly six thousand deaths occurred due to electrical injuries among U.S. workers between 1992 and 2013. The two chief sources of these fatalities, and of many other related injuries, are electrical shocks and arc flash events.
Electrical shocks involve contact with excessive or prolonged electric currents. Exposure to currents in excess of 75mA, which is not considered a high level, can still cause rapid, feeble heartbeats. This can lead to death if a defibrillator isn't employed within minutes.
2. Arc Flash Events
Arc flash events are caused by the arc of high-amperage currents traveling through the air, generating temperatures as high as 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. They may occur from operating malfunctioning electrical equipment or improper voltage testing. Such events "generate large amounts of heat that can severely burn human skin and set clothing on fire," notes Consulting Specifying Engineer, adding that "this explosive force can cause destruction to equipment, start fires, and injure employees working on the equipment as well as any surrounding bystanders."
3. Power Lines
The danger of non-insulated buried and overhead power lines is always a key safety hazard for electrical workers. Any contact with such lines that involves tools or other materials can cause severe injury to a worker or even death. Before undertaking a work project, always make note of (and carefully mark) the locations of all power lines in the area.
4. Lack of Personal Protection
Even professional electricians sometimes embark upon a job without fully adhering to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) procedures. Whenever appropriate, electricians should wear flame-resistant clothing and non-conductive headgear, as well as masks and rubber insulating gloves. Any water-related hazards present in the work area (from standing water to an environment of high humidity) should be closely monitored at all times.
Contractors insurance can help protect you and your business. The right coverage can help you stay on top of the complete range of risk-prevention policies. This can range from the need to fully comply with PPE requirements and general safety measures, as well as tool-theft prevention, maintenance of equipment and installation materials, and ensuring you're in full compliance with your state's workers compensation regulations (in the event of a crew member's on-the-job injury).
With the right precautions, electricians and electrical workers can sharply reduce these risks, thus enhancing the safety conditions of their jobs. Some costs are involved by implementing and maintaining these safety guidelines, but they pale beside the far greater costs incurred by job-related electrical accidents, injuries and death.
Most importantly, you can bolster the protection offered by insurance coverage by:
- Ensuring your team wears protective equipment
- Conducting regular safety training classes for your workers
- Taking safety measures to guard against encountering hazardous materials
- Adopting theft-prevention policies when working in public
- Staying compliant with your state's workers' compensation laws, in the event of a crew member's on-the-job injury
Your best bet is carrying insurance coverage specifically designed with electricians in mind. Such coverage entails a full understanding of the risks electrical contractors face and the best assessment of the type of insurance protection they need. Contractors insurance is an essential component in every electrician's toolbox. Find an agent who knows this, and can help you meet your needs.