Industrial employees regularly encounter serious hazards while navigating worksites. In most cases, these dangers stem from central operational fixtures such as shop-floor machinery and scaffolding assemblies. In fact, OSHA has issued thousands of violations to address ineffective fall protection, scaffolding and lockout/tagout procedures, according to the Department of Labor. But while these dangers are well known within the industrial sector, others get little coverage and wreak havoc on workers.
Electrical hazards fall into this category, according to the National Safety Council. Charged components can easily cause injuries, some of them fatal. In fact, 141 workers perished in 2013 while working with live electrical features, the group found. During that same year, more than 2,000 were forced to miss time due to electrical injuries. Even OSHA is aware of the sector-wide lack of awareness surrounding electrical hazards – it said as much in a 2002 publication on the subject.
With this in mind, organizations must make a concerted effort to educate their employees on electrical hazards and offer them the knowledge they need to safely address charged equipment. The NSC recommends offering basic information about how harmful levels of electricity can impact the human body. Workers who sustain serious electrical injuries are not simply shocked. High-voltage currents can cause a number of life-threatening symptoms, including heart and respiratory problems and severe thermal burns.
How do firms help workers avoid these injuries? Making them aware of little-known electrical hazards is the first step. The NSC suggests dispersing information on how to safely manage equipment chords when on worksites and approach live outlets, specifically those that feel warm or hot to the touch.
By equipping workers with this knowledge, industrial organizations can address serious electrical hazards and reduce the likelihood of injury in the workplace.