The dangers of working as an electrician depend on the type of work you do.
Electricians perform some of the most dangerous jobs, just like loggers, firefighters, deep-sea fishermen, tractor-trailer truck drivers, or construction laborers.
Depending on customer expectations or construction deadlines, electricians can sometimes find themselves in a stressful situation to finish some jobs or tasks faster.
Electrician Dangers and Risks
The installations, repair, and maintenance of the electrical systems come with some dangers that are not always electrical hazards.
- The danger of lethal electrical shock.
- Fire and explosions.
- Welding risks, including UV radiation.
- Exposure to solvents, lead, and other toxic chemicals.
- The danger of electrical smolders.
- Extreme temperatures – both hot and cold.
- The danger of disease from birds or rat droppings.
- Working in small or tight spaces.
- Mold, asbestos, and other microbes in older buildings.
- Working in the same position for a long time.
- Abrasions and cuts and from working with equipment with sharp edges and knives.
- Working alone.
- Working with different power apparatuses, hand devices, and hardware.
- Slips, trips, and falls.
- Movement work or broadened workdays.
- The danger of eye damage from flying particles.
The Difference Between Being Electrocuted and Electric Shock
Getting electrocuted means death caused by electricity.
Electric shock means that is shocked by an electric current without a lethal outcome.
It’s kind of simple.
One of gravest dangers of being an electrician is being shocked.
See below what it can do:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Severe burns.
- Muscle pain and contractions.
- Cardiac arrest.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Heart rhythm problems.
Only a small amount of current can kill.
Exactly, current, but not voltage.
How Electricity Causes Burns
When electricity passes through the body, it may cause electrical burns.
Most damage goes on the skin, but sometimes, burns can go deeper and cause nerve damage.
There are various burns that electricity can cause.
We will focus on two, arc burns and low voltage burns.
Arc burns occur when electrical energy drops from a high to a low resistance area.
With arc burns, air particles are ionized by the electricity and the produced heat can go beyond 2000 degrees C.
This temperature can vaporize metal, so regular clothes don’t stand a chance.
Low-voltage burns can occur by contacting a voltage source of 500 or fewer volts.
Depending on how long you are exposed to that, the burn can be mild.
How To Work Safely As An Electrician
Not only employers are responsible for safety, but you are as well.
The huge first step in reducing the risk of an accident is following the right procedures for using the equipment.
The proper training is just as important as correct procedures.
OHSA requires employers to provide certain safety training to their employees to ensure they are aware of the dangers in the trade.
You should be a safety-conscious person and know your limits and when to speak up.
- Electrical safety
- Working from mechanical lifts.
- Working on ladders.
- Lock-out/tag-out all equipment – electrical and mechanical.
- Use hand tools and power tools following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Lifting with knees, not your back, and be aware of when to ask for help.
- Confined spaces entry – following proper protocol and using PPE.
- Fire safety
- Follow good housekeeping procedures.
- Know how to report a hazard.
- Learn about chemical hazards, WHMIS and MSDSs.
- Follow company safety rules.
- Use, maintain and store protective equipment as per manufacturer’s recommendations.
Electrical Safety – What is Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO)?
Lock out tag out is two safety procedures combined into one.
Lockout means physically locking a device isolating energy (mechanical or electrical) and putting it in a de-energized state or a safe mode.
This device can be a circuit breaker (open) or a switch (off).
Circuit breakers usually have some type of tab or loop that can be pulled out or sticks out, so a lock can be installed.
Tag out means adding a label when a device needs to be locked out.
The label attached should be standard and include the following:
- Who put the tag and lock to the system.
- Time of putting on the lock and tag.
- Why the LOTO out is required (repair or maintenance).
This information should help anyone who isn’t involved in the process understand why the equipment is locked.
What happens if the one who put the lock isn’t employed with the company any longer?
Is it possible to cut the lock off?
The answer is, it’s never ok to cut it off in a LOTO incident.
This can threaten someone’s life.
There should be a written policy or procedure on how to handle a lock without an owner in every company.
Who Is Responsible for Lock Out / Tag Out?
Everybody in the work site has some responsibility in the lockout situation.
Generally, employers are usually responsible for:
- Providing the required protective equipment and hardware.
- Ensuring the program is being followed correctly.
- Providing a written program that should be periodically reviewed.
- Including those who and what equipment could be influenced by the program.
Supervisors are usually responsible for:
- Making sure that only properly trained workers do the service or maintenance that require lockout.
- Handing out personal protective equipment (PPE), tags, locks, and any other equipment needed by employees.
- Ensuring employees follow the company’s LOTO procedures when required.
Employees are usually responsible for:
- Following the policies and procedures that have been developed.
- Helping develop equipment-specific procedures that ensure safety.
- Reporting any problems with the equipment and procedures.
Keep in mind that electricians can face real dangers.
However, with the proper training and following the right procedures, you will have a long-term and safe career.