Electrical components are among the most hazardous elements modern industrial workers encounter on the job. More than 1,600 American workers sustained injuries due to electrical exposure in 2016, while approximately 154 lost their lives as a result of such events, according to researchers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The construction and utility spaces contributed the most electricity-related fatalities and injuries. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors handed out more than 1,500 violations related to faulty electrical wiring practices in 2016, OSHA reported.
Workplace safety stakeholders across the construction and industrial sectors are focusing on this critical issue over the course of May, which happens to be Electrical Safety Month. The Electrical Safety Foundation International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting safe electrical management practices, launched the holiday back in 2014 and has since developed the occasion into an important cross-industry event. In conjunction with the Electrical Safety Month, ESFI publishes a guide highlighting actionable information and strategies businesses can use to keep electrical specialists and the other workers who regularly encounter charged components safe. This year, the piece touches on the National Electric Code.
The National Fire Protection Association has been putting out these best practices since 1897, when an assemblage of electrical experts gathered to combine eight disparate electric codes into a cohesive national standard. In the decades since, the NFPA has published approximately 70 iterations of the NEC, the most recent of which debuted in May 2017. The revised NEC featured dozens of new definitions and a raft of refreshed workplace safety guidelines, including reconfigured inspection, risk assessment and investigation best practices, Electronic Contractor reported. ESFI zeroes in on the NEC within its Electrical Safety Month publication for 2018, pinpointing its triennial update schedule as critical to the progression of overall electrical safety.
In addition to the publication centered on the NEC, ESFI has released an advocate guide for individuals who wish to promote the use of safe electrical management practices. Together, these resources give industry professionals the kind of data-backed insight they need to bolster electrical safety at their respective workplaces.
This sort of awareness is certainly needed, considering the rate of injury among workers who deal with industrial electrical fixtures. Electrocution-related worker fatalities increased 15 percent in 2016, according to research from the BLS. Unfortunately, more than half of these deaths occurred within the construction arena, where electrocution is among the so-called “Fatal Four,” along with falls, caught-in-betweens and object-related blunt-force trauma, OSHA reported. In recent years, contractors and other stakeholders in the industry have worked to reduce such occurrences, with some success. However, there is clearly more work to be done.
ESFI is attempting to expedite this action with Electrical Safety Month and the promotion of prompt electrical code adoption as outlined in the NEC.