Approximately 150 fatalities each year in the United States are caused by electricity exposure, and nearly 40% of those fatalities are the result of coming into contact with something unknowingly conducting it. Whether from a machinery panel or an electric vehicle, electricity can be the source of significant danger to employees. That’s why following electrical safety protocols and best practices are vital.
Whenever possible, live parts should be de-energized, locked and tagged out before work is performed. With LOTO, hazardous energy is released or rendered inoperative, power sources are locked, and the equipment is tagged to indicate it’s now safe. LOTO prevents accidental startup of a machine while it is in a hazardous state or while a worker is in direct contact with it. OSHA has set detailed standards regarding LOTO procedures (read our previous blog article to learn more about why you need a lockout/tagout program and how to create one).
In some cases, however, de-energizing may not be feasible. It may create a situation that introduces additional or increased hazards, such as deactivation of emergency alarm systems. It may also not be possible due to the design of the equipment itself.
In other cases, testing and troubleshooting of the electrical circuitry is necessary, making de-energizing impractical.
If the equipment is operating at more than 50 volts to ground, and there are exposed live parts, there is increased exposure to electrical burns or explosion due to electrical arcs, and additional electrical safety protocols must be followed.
See the steps you need to take to ensure electrical safety by downloading our Electrical Safety Decision Tree.
Working on Exposed, Energized Parts
In cases where the equipment is not able to be de-energized, locked and tagged out, extra precautions, specialized PPE and significant training is necessary. Only qualified employees should be permitted to work on or near exposed energized parts, and qualified employees should only work near them for testing or trouble shooting purposes. Otherwise, any work on energized parts should only be performed by outside electrical contractors, or a licensed employee.
Additional rules to remember:
- Employees should never perform testing and troubleshooting on any primary power source or transformer exceeding 480 volts.
- Workers should remove all metallic objects from themselves prior to starting the work. This includes items such as cell phones, earrings or jewelry, belt buckles, money clips or loose change, keys, watches, metal frame glasses, and pocketknives.
- The following PPE is required when working within one foot of exposed energized parts, including troubleshooting:
- Level 2 flame-resistant coveralls and face shield
- Voltage-rated gloves
- Voltage-rated tools
- Safety glasses
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Create Your Own Electrical Safety Work Protocols
At GMG EnviroSafe we help protect employees, and businesses by helping them establish electrical safety best practices. For example, we recently worked with one major manufacturer, creating a comprehensive guide for all their facilities that included detailed definitions, protocols, assigned specific responsibilities to employees and more. GMG EnviroSafe can do the same for your business. Contact us to learn more and to get started creating and implementing your own electrical safety practices.
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