Electrical Hazards Shouldn't Come as a Shock

Walk on to a worksite and chances are high that you'll find
electricity powering tools and light fixtures, running overhead in powerlines,
or flowing through underground cables. Electricity is so integral to the
day-to-day activities of a workplace that it's easy to forget that this commonplace
utility is also a serious workplace hazard.

It takes very little electrical current to seriously injure or even kill a
worker. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
(NIOSH), direct contact with a circuit that can cause less than one amp of
electricity (less than the current through a 100 watt light bulb) to pass
through a human body can cause a worker to stop breathing (fibrillation).
Direct contact with a live 15-amp circuit, the equivalent to a standard
household outlet, can result in death.

An electrical hazard is a dangerous condition in which a worker could make
electrical contact with energized equipment and sustain an injury from shock
and/or from an arc flash burn, thermal burn or blast injury. Electricity seeks
the easiest and shortest paths to the ground - when people or objects come too
close to, or touch an electrical wire, they can become part of an electrical
circuit. The amount of current that flows through the body is determined by
the human body resistance and the lesser the body resistance, the higher the
current that flows through the body, which increases the risk of a fatal
electrical shock or severe burns.

The human body can become a good conductor, conducting electrical current from
a live wire to the ground, completing a circuit, if the person comes into
contact with a live or energized wire. The voltage of the electricity and the
available electrical current in regular businesses and homes has enough power
to cause death by electrocution. Even changing a light bulb without unplugging
the lamp can be hazardous from coming in contact with the energized or live
part of the socket.

Engineers, electricians, and overhead line workers are at the top of the list
of professionals who are exposed to electrical hazards. Everyday tasks that put
these workers at risk include electrical installation and repairs, testing of
fixtures and equipment and inspection and maintenance activities. Certain
worksites are also exposed to more electrical hazards. For instance, some
common electrical hazards found at a construction site include working on
ladders or scaffolding near overhead conductors or using hoisting equipment
near energized overhead power lines. Improperly grounded generators, worn or
damaged electrical cords, and cord connected power tools without double
insulated casing are also hazardous.

However, people who indirectly work with electricity, including office workers,
painters and equipment operators, are also exposed to electrical hazards.

Further Information:

AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety