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May 14, 2007
Can't Touch This! Plug In to These Electrical Safety Tips

In training, be sure to emphasize basic electrical safety with your "unqualified" workers (those who haven't been trained to work with live electrical parts according to the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.332). After all, employees don't have to be electricians or do electrical repair work to come in contact with dangerous electricity. Just working with electrical equipment could put them at risk. Here are some key training points you can use to help keep all your workers safe.

Don't use ...

  • Cords or wires with damaged or worn insulation.
  • Electrical equipment that smokes, sparks, shocks, smells, blows a fuse, or trips a circuit.
  • Any non-ground fault circuit interrupter outlet in a wet area.
  • Cords or electrical equipment in areas with explosive or flammable materials that are not approved for this specific use.
  • A cord with a bent or missing grounding plug.
  • A metal ladder or hard hat when working near electricity.
  • Metal tools to work on electrical equipment.
  • Electrical cords to raise or lower equipment.
  • Extension cords unless necessary, and then only use a cord that is rated high enough for the job.

Don't touch ...

  • Anything electric when your hands are wet, when you're standing on a wet floor, or when you're in contact with a wet surface.
  • An electrical fire or an electrical shock victim.

Don't place ...

  • Cords where they can be stepped on, run over by material handling equipment, or damaged in any other way.
  • Cords near heat or water.
  • Why It Matters...
    • The human body is a good conductor of electricity. Given enough voltage, electrical current can stop a heart in seconds, and in fact, electrocution is among the main causes of workplace deaths.
    • Electricity can also be converted into heat by the body and literally cook a victim. This can happen even at a fairly low voltage, as long as the power is high enough to heat the body faster than it can get rid of the generated heat.
  • Sharp fasteners or nails on electrical cords.

Don't permit ...

  • Overloaded outlets or circuits.
  • Loose electrical connections.
  • Dust or dirt buildup on machinery.
  • Blind reaches into any areas that may contain energized parts.
  • Combustible trash on or around electrical equipment or circuits.
  • Anyone who isn't trained and qualified to repair electrical equipment.
  • Attempts to use or start locked or tagged out electrical equipment.
  • Unauthorized removal or a lockout device or tag.
  • Any hesitation in calling trained emergency responders for electrical fires, shock, or serious burns.
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