How can you prevent electrical hazards in the workplace?
Electricity is one of the most dangerous elements in any workplace and can result in shocks, burns, severe injuries and worse if not managed correctly.
There are guidelines that your business can stick to, which can help prevent these incidents from happening and from helping you adhere to OHS and HSSE compliance requirements in your industry, including:
Regularly inspect all electrical equipment
It is important to have a licensed professional to inspect all electrical equipment, cords and outlets on a regular basis so they can see the telltale signs of impending failure that can cause damage and hard. This is especially important for appliances etc that are used more often than others.
Every workplace has different testing and tagging compliance requirements and this can vary from state to state as well. It is essential to understand the rules in your industry, but here are the recommended time frames as a guide only:
Construction and building: This is a high-risk industry, so all equipment and portable appliances should be tested every three months.
Warehouses and manufacturing: These appliances and electrical plant equipment tend to be placed under heavy use, so testing is recommended every six months.
Any industry where machinery and appliances are prone to damage, flexing or any other knocks and manipulation, should have their equipment tested every 12 months. Industries, where equipment is not likely to be damaged or flexed, should still have all items tested every five years.
Do not overload power outlets
Never plug in more than one high-wattage appliance at a time to a single power outlet and avoid 'piggybacking' multiple adapters and powerboards. This applies even when a surge protection device is being used.
Ensure all electrical equipment is certified
All equipment sold in Australia must be safe and certified compliant under AS/NZS 3820 – the general safety standard. Avoid cheaper equipment from overseas, which does not carry this compliance certification as they could become faulty and dangerous.
Don't run electrical cords through high traffic areas
Not only do the cords become a tripping hazard if they are run through walkways, hallways, corridors etc., but they can also become damaged by people, vehicles and machinery and present a live electricity hazard which is extremely dangerous.
Unplug any unused appliances
Even when they are turned off, appliances will continue to draw power. This can lead to increases in your electricity bill from this standby energy loss and it can also create the potential for hazards.
Appliances are a leading cause of fires in homes and businesses when they are left plugged in because circuit boards and contacts can fail, causing sparks and the potential for enormous damage and harm.
Electrical hazards should always be treated seriously and any signs of damage, fraying, sparks or any other fault or hazard should be immediately reported for inspection and isolated so no worker will come in contact with it.
Always trust the advice of your licensed professional – never attempt DIY.