Electrical Hazards in the workplace

No matter which industry you work in, chances are that you’ll be exposed to potential electrical hazards in your workplace. Even though the number of non-fatal injuries, accidents and illnesses in the American workplace has fallen in recent years, employers still have a moral and legal responsibility to provide the safest and healthiest work environment possible for their staff. If you’re an employee or employer who’d like to minimize the risk of accident or injury in your workplace, take a closer look at this quick guide to common electrical hazards in the workplace:

Common Electrical Hazards: With ‘exposure to harmful substances or environments’ leading to 672 worker fatalities in the US in 2020, it’s essential that employers do their best to reduce the risk of death or serious injury in the workplace. This includes proper maintenance and servicing of electronics, particularly those commonly associated with injury. Some of the most common electrical hazards found in the American workplace include exposed cables, overloaded power sockets, faulty wiring (or wiring chewed by pests and rodents), damaged electrical equipment, un-serviced white goods, improper grounding, dangerous overhead power lines and replacement fuses. The most common forms of injury sustained due to electrical hazards at work include thermal burns, electrical burns and even loss of muscle control.

Increasing employee awareness: By thoroughly training and educating your staff on potential dangers in the workplace, you should be able to significantly reduce the risk of injury or death due to electrical hazards. Employees who are well-aware of existing dangers are also less likely to introduce new electrical hazards in the workplace that may otherwise go unnoticed. Tailor your staff training to suit your industry – for example, kitchen or service employees may require more extensive training on dangers related to water and electricity or electrical cutting tools such as meat slicers.    

How to minimise electrical incidents: Once staff have received training related to electrical hazards, it’s important that each and every employee takes a proactive stance towards reducing risk. This could include ensuring that lightbulbs are correctly secured and fitted to their lamp sockets, avoiding overloaded power sockets, keeping electrical equipment away from water or moisture, correctly stowing away electrical cables and wires, and handling heavy-duty electrical equipment with extreme care (including the use of appropriate PPE) and unplugging electrical items when not in use. All electrical equipment in the workplace should be regularly checked and professionally serviced – any items or appliances that do not meet the standard should be safely disposed of and replaced immediately. It’s also important that there is sufficient lighting and space for employees to use electrical equipment safely, and that un-serviced electrical tools are never introduced into the workplace.