By: Jeson Pitt, D & F Liquidators Hayward, CA
Electricity is one of the leading causes of accidents in plants. An electrical safety program will keep employees safe and equipment from getting damaged. Below are six ways you can design an effective electrical safety program.
Study and Implement OSHA Standards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) places great importance on companies having a comprehensive electrical safety program. These programs must address all the safety issues that workers are likely to face on the job.
OSHA relies on the NFPA 70E Electrical Safety Standard to define the elements of the electrical safety program. Study them carefully and understand the standards of OSHA. Implement them accordingly in the facility.
Conduct Audit of Electrical Equipment and Procedures
It is vital to perform an audit of the facility’s construction electrical products and procedures, allowing you to identify the specific areas within the plant where electrical hazards may be present.
Conduct the audit at least once per year. It is a good idea to audit whenever changes are made in the facility. This will make sure that the facility and all its electrical systems continue to operate safely.
Design for an Elimination of Electrical Hazard
Try to eliminate electrical hazards in the facility or reduce them to an acceptable risk level. You can consider Prevention through Design (PtD) to achieve this. It is the concept of designing out hazards or designing in controls to equipment or processes to mitigate exposure.
It sounds like a great idea to eliminate the hazard, but it is not practical nor possible. For instance, if you need human input for any process, there will always be a possibility of error. You cannot eliminate intentional or unintentional human error. But try to bring it down as much as possible.
Conducting a risk assessment of any electrical hazard can help in coming up with a probable solution and design, for example, arc flash risk assessment for employee safety.
Verify the Absence of Voltage
You can verify the absence of voltage once the lockout process is completed by using an adequately rated voltage tester. The absence of voltage tested (AVT) simplifies the verification step by automating the process and preventing the workers from exposure to electrical hazards. Once you install the AVT, initiate the test. You will see an active visual indication when the absence of voltage is confirmed. It is equally important to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while doing this.
Practice Electrical Safety Training
Safety drills are standard electrical safety practices in many companies. However, the person most likely to be injured in an electrical accident is the one most likely to be responsible for the electrical system. Design unique and challenging safety drills that are specific to the electrical system. This will help you be more prepared in the event of an actual emergency. You will also be able to identify potential areas of electrical danger within the facility.
Improve and Update Safety Program Continually
Once you make the electrical safety program, keep updating it. The program should include the provision to report any kind of near-miss electrical incident. This will allow you to identify such instances and mitigate them by putting the right actions in place. Strive to continually improve the program for the benefit of everyone working with the electrical equipment.
Don’t let electrical safety be an after-thought in your facility. Be proactive and design the best electrical safety plan that will keep your employees safe.