Whether you are a residential or an industrial electrician the bottom is that you do an essential job, but no matter how well you do it, you are still taking your life in your hands every single day. When you’re dealing with high voltages and changing conditions, any worksite can be a hazardous place. Put simply, there’s no room for mistakes.
While you’re taught to do many things for your personal safety when learning your trade, such as taking note of possible danger zones, the bottom line is that you and you alone are responsible for your safety. Electricity is a volatile force and you have to know what precautions to take to protect yourself against it. Here is a list of five safety tips for all electricians:
1. Ladder Safety
If you know that you are going to be working somewhere where you will need to use a ladder, then be sure that you check and then check again to be certain there are no overhead power sources. Should one of these lines get knocked down, anyone nearby can be gravely injured, possibly even killed.
Be sure to use a wooden or fiberglass ladder, or one that is composed of some type of non-conductive material. Do a careful inspection of the ladder before mounting it to make sure it is in good condition, and do not leave your tools on the top of the ladder. Ever.
2. Don’t Touch Until You Test
The ideal way to find out if an electrical component or circuit is safe to touch is not by touching it and taking your chances. You must test it before you risk touching it. That means you have to bring out your trusty old multimeter, which no electrician worth their salt should be without. A multimeter will do a reading in volts of how powerful the electrical current passing through the electrical component is and determine if it is low voltage enough for you to be able to touch it.
3. Check Out the Circuit Breaker
If a circuit breaker is tripped, don’t rush to reset it. First, look around and find out what caused this to happen. When a circuit breaker goes out it is a sign that there just might be a serious problem lurking somewhere, probably an electrical overload. Should you not fix this problem before resetting the circuit breaker, an electrical fire could occur.
4. Check Your Tools
Look your tools over carefully, checking power cords and electrical fittings for any damage before every use. If something is broken or needs to be repaired, don’t wait. It’s essential that you repair or if necessary, replace any equipment that is not up to doing the job required immediately.
5. Wear the Proper Safety Gear Including Shoes
When it comes to safety tips for all electricians, enough cannot be said about the importance of wearing the right protective gear and shoes. Use insulated gloves to keep your hands protected if you should come in contact with an electrical current. Wear safety goggles for your eyes.
As for shoes, a good pair of safety shoes will keep your feet protected, but also allow them to breathe. Only wear shoes that have an electrical hazard marking — EH on them. This is how you know that they have been tested by the American Society of Testing and Materials. They will only give the EH rating to shoes that are created to protect those who wear them from as much as 600 volts of electricity in a dry area.
Some workers like to wear leather shoes with an EH marking, that have an outsole with electrical insulation. That’s fine, but know that polymeric boots or overshoes provide the best protection.
If you are going to be doing machinery maintenance, and you’re sure there will be no risk of an electric arc developing, you can make do with normal EH safety footwear. Get a pair with a good insole and be certain the leather is water-resistant.
The above are just some safety tips for all electricians to stay safe and healthy. Working with electricity cannot be taken casually. It’s a hazardous profession, and there’s a great deal more that you need to know in order to keep yourself alive and well.