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Electrical Safety Month

worker-safetyMay is Electrical Safety Month. Electricity is something that we all use every day but many of us don’t fully understand. It is important that we all know the basics of how to stay safe, but it is especially important that anyone who works with electricity, either at work or at home, understands the risks they are taking and how to eliminate those risks.

Electrical repair and maintenance presents the GREATEST RISK of electrical injury and 40% of electricians frequently or almost always conduct electrical maintenance work. In 2009, there were 1,674 emergency department visits for electrical injuries in Ontario. More than 78% of those visits were for the most severe types of injuries, including those requiring resuscitation. Almost half of these visits were for work-related injuries.

There are hidden dangers associated with low voltage contact. Many electrical workers consider low voltage contact to be just part of the job. But research from Sunnybrook’s Ross Tilley Burn Centre and St. John’s Rehab finds that seemingly harmless low voltage issues may take months to detect and can include irregular heartbeat, speech impairment, difficulty walking, numbness, nightmares, memory loss and weakness.

The best way to stay safe is to take safety precautions EVERY TIME.

  1. Don’t cut corners! Improper procedure is associated with more than 60% of electrical worker incidents.
  2. Don’t work live! The majority of electrical injuries are linked to working on energized equipment such as breaker panels, motor control systems and lighting. Turn the power OFF before you begin working.
  3. Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if you must work live! Electric arc flashes can happen in an instant and the consequences are devastating. PPE is critical for your protection.
  4. Be informed! Ensure that warning labels are placed on electrical equipment to warn workers of potential shock and arc hazards.

If you are expected to work with electricity, it is your right and your responsibility to ensure that your employer provides you with comprehensive safety procedures and training.

For more information on how you can stay safe while working with electricity, download this Safety Supplement produced by Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority. You can also visit our Understanding Electricity page on the Resource Portal!

Don’t Learn the Hard Way!

Daniel Plexman knows too well the dangers of electricity. Having suffered severe burns from an electrical arc flash, he wants to make sure that YOU don’t suffer a similar incident.