Electrical Safety During the Holidays: Part 1

Safety is a part of every job, but is especially important when working with or around potentially energized electrical equipment. Each year, approximately 1,000 people die in accidents related to electricity. More than half of these deaths occurred in cases where the voltage was less than 600 V. Under the right conditions, as little as 50 V can be fatal!

Most accidents occur because people are unaware of an electrical hazard, or they disregard safety rules. With the holiday season in full swing, it's important to know the standard safety practices to observe when working with electricity.

The first of four guidelines when working with or around electricity is adhering to proper work practices.

Never place yourself in a position where you might become part of a circuit. If you are not part of the circuit, the electricity will have to find another path to travel. To avoid becoming part of the circuit, you should follow these work practices.

Safety Begins with the Right Attitude 

Be alert for conditions that could indicate an energized component. For example, bare copper or aluminum located in areas of electrical distribution should always be considered energized. Always assume that wiring and related equipment are energized until you can verify otherwise. 

What Should You Wear?

When working with or near electrical equipment, remember these tips:
  • Remove jewelry and watches as these items can easily make contact or assist in arcing with energized components. 
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt, roll down the sleeves, and button them at the wrists.
  • Avoid wearing wet or damp clothing or clothing that is oil-soaked. 
  • Wear rubber-soled safety shoes to help prevent your feet from making contact with electricity. 
  • Wear only nonconductive hard hats (plastic, not metal) around overhead electrical equipment.
If you follow these tips and remain cautious when working with electrical sources, you shouldn't incur any electricity-related accidents.

This article is Part 1 of 3 and is adapted from BOMI International's Electrical Systems and Illumination course, part of the SMA® and SMT® designation programs. More information regarding this course is available by calling 1.800.235.2664. Visit BOMI International’s website, www.bomi.org.


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