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SAFETY TALK – 23

Electrical Safety

The majority of us use electricity every day on the job. This kind of familiarity can create a false sense of security. It’s important to remember that electricity is always a potential source of danger.

The basic rule is simple: consider all electrical wires and equipment to be live until they are tested and proven otherwise.

When we consider electrical hazards on the job, we should watch:

  • Tools
  • Cords
  • Panels

Tools

  • Only use tools that are properly grounded or double-insulated.
  • Make sure the casings of double-insulated tools are not cracked or broken.
  • Always use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) when using portable electric tools outdoors or in damp or wet locations. GFCIs detect current that may be leaking to the ground from a tool or cord, and they shut off power before injury or damage can happen.
  • Any shock or tingle, no matter how slight, means that the tool or equipment should be checked and repaired.
  • Never bypass broken switches on tools or equipment by plugging and unplugging the cord. Shutting off power will take too long in an emergency.
  • Before drilling, nailing, cutting, or sawing into walls, ceilings, and floors, check for electrical wires or equipment.

Cords

  • Make sure that tool cords, extension cords, and plugs are in good condition.
  • Never cut off, bend back, or cheat the ground pin on three-prong plugs.
  • Make sure the extension cords are the right gauge for the job to prevent overheating, voltage drops, and tool burnout.
  • Check extension cords and outlets with a circuit-tester before use.
  • Use cords fitted with dead front plugs. These present less risk of shock and short-circuit than open front plugs.
    Use cords fitted with dead front plug
  • Don’t use cords that are defective or that have been improperly repaired.
  • Don’t wire cords into outlets. Disconnecting takes too long in an emergency.
  • Protect cords from traffic – from vehicles or pedestrians. For example, a cart that is pushed over a cord repeatedly can weaken the cord, making it dangerous. Also, pedestrians can trip over cords, leaving them halfway unplugged, which is also hazardous.

Panels

  • Temporary panel boards must be securely mounted, protected from weather and water, easily accessible to workers, and kept clear of obstructions.
  • Use only fuses or breakers of the recommended amperage. For example, if the electrical system is rated for 30 amps, don’t use a fuse or breaker that’s higher than 30 amps.
  • Follow established procedures when locking out panels.

In New Brunswick, the law regarding electrical safety and lock out can be found in General Regulation 91-191 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, sections 83-84, 239-240, 270, 284, and 286-287.6.

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