Understanding Hazards – Electricity

The main type of harm from electricity is electric shock, caused by coming into direct contact with an electrical conductor, such as the bare wires of an appliance while it’s live. You can also be injured as a consequence of an electric shock: for example, if you get a shock while changing a light bulb, you could fall off your ladder.  Electricity can also cause electrical burns and fire.

Most deaths and injuries from electricity are due to:

  • using poorly-maintained electrical equipment
  • working near overhead power lines
  • contact with underground power lines
  • contact with underground power cables during excavation work
  • working on near domestic electricity supplies
  • use of unsuitable electrical equipment in explosive atmospheres, such as in car paint spraying booths.

In most cases, people thought wrongly that the equipment they were working on was not live; they didm’t have good enough training or equipment; or they hadn’t taken adequate precautions.

Most of these could have been avoided by careful planning and relatively straightforward precautions.

As a duty holder, you’ll need to assess what kind of electrical work your team’s involved in.

The team may be:

  •  working near electricity – for example, near overhead power lines or underground cables
  • using electrical equipment – for example, power tools
  • working on electrical equipment, machinery or installations – for example, carrying out maintenance or repair work.

Whatever the work, they need to make sure that the risks are assessed, workers are given appropriate training, and adequate controls are provided so that they can work without putting themselves and others in danger.

Working near electricity
Make sure their team members are trained to:

  • recognise electrical wiring – sometimes it isn’t obvious
  • request and use an up-to-date map of gas, water and electricity services in the area
  • find and mark underground services
  • ask for electrical power supplies to be turned off
  • ask for and follow the advice of a competent person.
Using electrically powered equipment
Develop a procedure to make sure that:

  • electrical equipment is suitable for its intended use, and it’s in good condition
  • electrical equipment is suitable for the electrical supply
  • a circuit breaker is used between the equipment and electrical supply
  • workers are trained to use the equipment safely.
Working on electrical equipment, machinery or installation
Make sure that this type of work:

  • is thoroughly planned
  • is carried out by competent people only
  • meets the requirements of relevant national or industrial standards.