Watch out for these electrical-safety goofs

by on August 30, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Even good electrical-safety programs have accidents. Why?

Workers sometimes fall into the following traps, says electrical-safety expert Thomas Mears of Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc.

1. Failure to de-energize

Failure to de-energize is the biggest problem, Mears says. Three ways that happens:

  • Honest mistakes. This includes locking out or testing the wrong circuit.
  • Not checking. After a physical lockout, workers may assume equipment is safe, but don’t test it to ensure the control device worked or there are no backfeeds.
  • Miscommunicating. A worker assumed someone else was going to de-energize equipment, but no one else did.

2. Maintenance failures
The second most common flaw is failure to maintain equipment properly. Examples:

  • Circuit breakers used to turn equipment on and off. Frequent switching wears down the breaker. It can fail and allow electrical overloads at the exact moment it’s needed.
  • Not cleaning. Manufacturing plants and construction sites are dirty – gunk becomes caked on and inside electrical enclosures. During maintenance, it can become airborne, settle between adjacent conductors and cause a flashover.
  • Temporary solutions become permanent ones. Temp wiring solves an immediate problem and can move it to the bottom of a priority list. But it’s a leading cause of electrical fires.
  • Not using PPE. Mears has seen electricians working on live equipment with their bare hands.

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