OSHA Safety Manuals | Working Safely Around Electricity
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Working Safely Around Electricity

Working Safely Around Electricity

Industry runs on electricity. It’s safe to use when you know what you’re doing and take proper precautions. When precautions are not taken, electricity can be a killer.

How you are affected by electric shock depends on the following factors:

  • The rate the current flows through your body. This depends on how good your body conducts electricity. If you have dry hands and are standing on a non-conductive surface such as a rubber mat, you may not even feel a shock. If you are perspiring and are standing in water, you could be killed.
  • The length of time the current flows through your body. The longer the electric contact, the greater the current flow and the greater the shock.
  • The path the current takes through your body. The most dangerous path is through vital organs.

Your actions can protect your safety.

  • Read and follow instructions before handling anything electrical. If you don’t understand the instructions, get qualified help-don’t guess.
  • Plugs should only be inserted in receptacle outlets with the same slot or blade pattern, unless proper adapters are used. Don’t force or alter a plug by bending, twisting or removing blades to make it fit into a receptacle outlet.
  • Water conducts electricity. Keep wet hands from touching electrical equipment or light switches.
  • Firmly grip the plug, not the cord, when disconnecting equipment. Yanking the cord can damage the cord, plug, or receptacle outlet and result in a shock or fire.
  • Because electricity is present even when the switch is in the “off” position, unplug equipment, appliances and extension cords when not in use and before inspecting, cleaning, or fixing them.
  • Recognize signs of overloaded circuits including flickering or dimming lights, blown fuses, warm wall plates or extension cords, and tripped circuit breakers.
  • Receptacle outlets and switches should not be painted or covered with wallpaper paste.

There’s no margin for error when working with electricity. Conditions vary so much that without the facts, you may make a mistake and cause injury to yourself or fellow workers.

Click here for OSHA’s quick card on electrical safety