Safety moment - electrical hazards

Most of us work with equipment that runs on electrical power, and it’s easy to forget that this commonplace utility is also a serious workplace hazard. An electrical hazard is a dangerous condition in which a worker could make electrical contact with energized equipment or component and sustain an injury from shock or from an arc flash burn, thermal burn or blast injury.

It only takes a little electrical current to seriously injure or even cause fatality to a worker. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), direct contact with a circuit that can cause less than one amp of electricity - less than the current through a 100-watt light bulb - to pass through a human body can cause a worker to stop breathing. Direct contact with a live 15-amp circuit, the equivalent to a standard household outlet, can result in death.

In Ontario alone, there were 52 electrical-related fatalities reported between 2010 to 2019. In that 10-year period, there were 466 injury claims related to electrocution and electric shock, of which 265 cases were electrical burns.

Here’s how you can work safely and protect yourself:

  • Follow the requirements – Ensure you follow your company’s Electrical Safety Program, applicable CSA standards, and equipment specific procedures, and reach out to your supervisor if something isn’t clear
  • Wear your gear - Use the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and tools for the task
  • Assess the risks - Before starting the job, perform a pre-job hazard assessment of your task and work environment, such as carrying out a field-level hazard assessment or job safety analysis. This helps to identify hazardous conditions and establish control measures before you start your job
  • Do a self-check - Pause and assess if you are distracted, fatigued or feeling unwell. Ensure you are clear on work instructions, procedure and whether you have the proper training, tools, team, and equipment to perform the job safely. If not, speak to your supervisor immediately