Set aside time this May, Electrical Safety Month, to remember the importance of electrical safety.
Electrocution remains a leading cause of accidents and fatalities, affecting professional workers and everyday citizens.
Electrical Hazards: by the Numbers
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, electrocution is one of four leading causes of death among construction workers. In 2015, 81 workers died from electrocution while on the job.
Residential households aren’t immune to electrical accidents either. The nonprofit organization Electrical Safety Foundation International stated electrical distribution, specifically arcing faults, is the fourth-leading cause of home fires. The ESFI estimated nearly 51,000 home fires can be attributed to electrical failure. Another 3,300 fires are caused by faulty extension cords (or improper use).
Fires caused by arcing faults accounted for nearly 1,440 injuries and 490 deaths while extension cord fires lead to an average of 270 injuries and 50 deaths.
The lesson is clear: electrical safety can’t be taken for granted at home or at work.
How to Reduce Electrical Incidents
Though May is National Electrical Safety Month, homeowners, renters and professional workers should always adhere to basic electrical safety principles.
Residential Electric Safety
Electrical overloads are a main factor in starting household fires. Residential occupants know their circuits are overloaded based on the following signs:
- Flickering or dimming lights.
- Warm wall plates.
- Frequently tripped circuit breakers.
- Mild shock from wall receptacles or switches.
To avoid electrical overloads, renters and homeowners should conduct a walk-through to see how devices and appliances are plugged in. Appliances should always be plugged into wall receptacles because they’re heavy power users, explained Tipmont REMC.
Avoid heavily relying on extension cords, as continuous use wears them out. Worn-out extension cords can lead to harmful electrical shocks or electrical fires.
Residential occupants should call professional electricians to inquire about adding more wall outlets to reduce an over-reliance on extension cords.
Workplace Electrical Safety
In the workplace, employers and employees must take a proactive approach to electrical safety, starting first with updating or creating a comprehensive electrical safety program.
That program will help employers ensure they’re in line with many OSHA regulations overseeing electrical protective devices, electric utilization systems and wiring design, to name a few.
Comprehensive programs must also focus on training employees. They need to know about the dangers of arc flashes and how personal protective gear can reduce the severity of accidents. Furthermore, they should be reminded about the importance of powering down energized equipment and preventing unexpected startups by complying with lockout tagout procedures.
This National Electrical Safety Month, homeowners and professionals should make electrical safety a priority and follow basic electrical safety principles to reduce the number of electrical accidents and deaths.
At Border States Electric, safety is not just a priority, it is a value.
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