When working near or with electricity, there is an ever-present risk of receiving a shock. This could result in serious injury such as electrical burns, loss of muscle control or even death.
Safety is always of paramount importance, especially for those working with potentially live electrical circuits.
For this reason, it is imperative to take precautions when working near electricity. The following preventative measures have been taken from the Health and Safety Executive’s guidelines and are provided today by a well-known distributor of electrical and environmental testing equipment.
Precautions to be given priority
- Undertake a risk assessment – Understand the risks associated with the work you are planning and ensure this covers electrical hazards.
- Recognise electrical wires – Although not always visible, electrical wires pose an unrelenting danger. So, learn how to recognise overhead power lines or cables buried under the ground.
- Check for warning signs – Remember to look up, down, and around you for signs warning of the dangers from electricity, which you may have failed to notice previously.
- Use a cable locator – If you need to disturb the earth or cut into surfaces, use a cable locator to identify electrical services and permanently mark the position of these.
- Turn off the electrical supply – Whenever possible, turn off the electrical supply or try to work away from it. Make sure it cannot be turned on again without your permission and full knowledge.
- Ask somebody else to help – If you cannot turn off the electrical supply, ask somebody else to help and advise you while working. Two pairs of hands are likely to be better than one in the event of an accident.
- Make it clear you are working near electricity – Put up danger notices where live electrical circuits exist and warn those nearby so that everyone is aware of the potential danger in the area.
Additional safety precautions
Even if no danger signs are present, there is a chance they were removed for one reason or another. In this situation, you should remain vigilant and always assume electrical cables are nearby.
You should never carry out work where the sign indicates a high voltage cable than you can deal with as you may not have the necessary expertise or equipment to deal with this safely.
You may not be able to see electrical wiring either, as it can often look like pipes or be a range of colours, which are different to what you are used to. One way around this is to ask for up-to-date plans of the electrical installation from a competent person.
Never assume that a cable of a particular colour is at a particular voltage, especially since the colours used for wiring in Great Britain changed in 2004. So, always identify what voltages are present on an installation you are not familiar with. If in doubt, leave well alone and seek further professional experienced advice regarding the best course of action to take.
For scenarios when the power must stay off, you will need the right equipment to keep you safe. For example, think about using a lockout kit with a unique key only you have possession of. This will prevent somebody else from turning on the power by accident.
However, you may also want to put up your own signs when working near electricity, because if you remove a fuse, somebody else might insert one in its place without knowing.
Further help, advice and training
For more advice, useful information, education and training relating to electrical safety and related testing, visit the news section at Instrotech. You will find that there is plenty of useful information to put you on the road to electrical safety.
Make sure that you put safety first, get in touch if you are in any doubt regarding the best course of action to take with any of your electrical testing issues.