How to maintain a safe work site.
Electrical hazards can easily manifest at nearly every work site. They can be caused by worn or damaged power tools or cords, improperly grounded tools or equipment, or the presence of standing water. Given the seriousness of this type of hazard, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help make sure that your work site meets all of the electrical safety requirements set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
1. Power Tools
When using hand power tools, it’s vital to use those that are double-insulated. This means that the tool is encased in plastic, which prevents the user from being electrocuted in the case of a short circuit. Double-insulated tools can be identified by a square-within-a-square logo or the words “double-insulated” being featured on their label.
An additional hazard to watch for are three-pronged tools that have their grounding pin missing. Using these tools can be extremely hazardous because if a short develops the user may become the ground in the system, causing electricity to travel through them.
Remember to always inspect power tools before you use them. If you detect any defects, alert a superior and remove the tool from service until it has been repaired.
2. Extension Cords
It’s important that all extension cords at a worksite be in good working order. OSHA requires that workers use three-wire cords designed for hard or extra-hard usage. When using one of these cords, always check that the third prong, also known as the grounding pin, hasn’t become loose or fallen out. If the grounding pin is missing, remove the cord from use immediately. Do not use the cord again until it has been repaired and properly tested. Additionally, no one should ever bypass the grounding pin by bending it out of the way or by removing it.
3. Ground-fault Circuit Interrupters
A GFI is an electrical device that protects the user against electrocution. An example would be the receptacle normally found in bathrooms with the test and reset button. It is vital that a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) be used when users are dealing with 120-volt, single phase 15- and 20-ampere services. Most modern generators are equipped with GFCIs. But before work begins, always check to see if they operating correctly.
In the case that a generator or electrical source is not equipped with a GFCI, a portable unit must be used. In order to ensure proper ground-fault protection, the portable GFCI should be plugged into the generator or power source, and then the extension cord or cords should also be plugged into the GFCI.
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