Electrical Safety for Homes and Workplaces

Benjamin Franklin is considered to be the father of Electricity or Electrical energy. Nikola Tesla and the likes of others occupy a very prominent place in our lives. Electricity powers almost anything and everything that surrounds us.

 

It includes every single thing in our home and workplace. It comprises small-scale home appliances from televisions, fans, heaters, mobile phones, and blenders right up to large-scale electrical panels running on high voltage.

 

Electricity is the mega force that drives huge machines in industries. Incorrect use of the Tools to Check for Electrical Voltage systems or unhealthy work practices like the use of damaged/faulty electrical appliances can prove hazardous to human life. Therefore it is essential to equip oneself with the basic safety rules.

 

Therefore, it is important to utilize electrical equipment properly and safely. Moreover, one has to ensure the all-around health and safety of each member of the family.

 

Below enlisted is a small checklist for steps of electrical safety control:

 

  • Always read the user manual thoroughly before utilizing any electrical appliance.
  • Periodically examine the appliance for broken parts and/or damaged power cords. Signs of scorching, melting, smoke, or sparks suggest damage.
  • Never plug too many appliances into a single outlet.
  • Have you found any damage to an appliance? In that case, immediately call a licensed electrician to repair it.
  • Avoid water in all instances when in contact with electrical appliances.
  • Always make sure that you use a fault circuit interrupter- GFCI at all your plugging points especially the ones that are subjected to moist areas like bathrooms.

 

Various laws are in place to curb electrical hazards and disturbances. Countries all over the world have various laws and rules to make sure that their citizens are safe. We are discussing the Electrical Appliances Safety Control Act that is passed by the US government.

 

Electric Appliances Safety Control Act

  • This Act has been brought into action to discuss topics that involve safety control. Safety is inevitable in the process of manufacturing, assembling, processing, selling as well as usage of electric appliances. Proper safety helps to prevent the occurrence of electrical hazards like shock, electrical fires, etc.
  • Each appliance under this act is subject to safety certification under the Ordinance of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy. Any appliance that is sold without the safety certification and safety inspection is prohibited from sale and use of the equipment.
  • This inspection states that any appliance that does not conform to the given standards has to be upgraded or disposed of. This act also takes into consideration any appliance that is exported.
  • The act penalizes any company or manufacturer who does not adhere to the instructions. Therefore every appliance manufacturing company must apply for safety certification to prevent common electric mishaps due to malfunction.

 

Safety Tips for Working With/Near Electricity

All electrical systems are capable of inducing fatal electrical hazards such as thermal burns, muscle contractions, electric shock, falls, and last but not least death by electrocution.

 

Therefore it is mandatory to be ALERT & AWARE of our surroundings to create a protected working environment for general health and safety.

 

If you are working near or on electrical equipment, tools, or circuits, you must without fail adhere to the following electrical safety rules:

 

  • Never touch or work with an electrical appliance with damp hands. Keep water away at all times.
  • Check power cords, extension cords, electrical fittings, fuses, plugs, and wires for damage if any. Never use such equipment and always get it repaired by a qualified electrician.
  • Disconnect the main power supply before repairing a damaged electrical appliance.
  • Utilize the non-conductive handle when working with an electrical appliance.
  • Never use cords/plugs with exposed wiring.
  • If you notice an electrical device at home or office to be unusually warm. It may suggest an incorrect wiring condition. Never attempt to use such a device unless thoroughly examined by an electrician.
  • Do not wear loose clothing when working near electricity.
  • Wear insulated rubber slippers to prevent electrical hazards when repairing electrical equipment.
  • Keep all highly flammable liquids away from electrical sources and devices.
  • Use ladders with non-conductive rails when working near power lines.
  • One should use adaptors or extension cords that indicate the specific voltage.
  • Use non-conductive materials in the manufacture of exposed receptacle boxes.
  • If a person comes in contact with a live electrical wire; in any condition do not touch the person, wire, or equipment. Disconnect the power source or attempt to unplug the cord using a wooden stick or leather belt.
  • Make use of GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) in damp areas of the house to reduce the potentiality of electrical hazards.

 

Electrical Safety at Home

You enjoy the benefits of Electricity, but are you aware of electrical safety

Electricity has energized our mundane lives. It brightens up a dark room, provides warmth in winter, and chills in summer, instead cleans up a dusty room, and a lot more. It has integrated into our lives such that we have taken for granted the life-threatening hazards it poses.

 

According to NFPA (National Fire Protection Act) “From 2011-2015, electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in the ignition of 34000 reported home structure fire, on average, per year. ” Therefore it is a safety reminder to follow the safety rules and regulations enlisted below for home electricals:

 

  • Has all electrical work been done by a professionally qualified technician?
  • When you are purchasing or remodeling a house have it inspected by a qualified private inspector for electrical requirements?

 

Appliances

  • Ensure that you use reputed consumer-certified appliances.
  • Switch off appliances when not in use.
  • Do not touch any appliance with wet hands.
  • Do not insert any instrument or finger into a toaster or microwave when being operated.
  • Keep several inches of clearance for heat-generating appliances such as microwaves, heaters, etc. for proper air ventilation.
  • Never fold an electric blanket because it might bend or distort wires.
  • Plug major appliances like refrigerators, and air-conditioners directly into a wall receptacle outlet.

 

Power Cords

  • Do not use cords with exposed wiring.
  • Always fully unwind extension cords before use.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords except other than for temporary solutions.
  • Always unplug the cord from the outlet, and never attempt to pull the cord.

 

Adaptors/Power Cords

  • Do not overload a power board with too many appliances.
  • Use a power board with overload switches.
  • Use an adaptor with a specified voltage.
  • Invest in tamper-resistant receptacles(TRR).

 

Lights

  • Always switch off the light before repairing or replacing it.
  • Always use bulbs that have the correct wattage requirements for each fixture.
  • Always screw a bulb in tightly to prevent loose connections that may cause sparks.
  • Make sure lights do not flicker.

 

Outdoor

  • Do not play in / near water at the time of thunder and lightning.
  • Maintain distance from power lines.
  • Before digging into the ground, call the respective authorities to check for underground power lines or dial 811.
  • Never climb the fence that encloses an electrical substation.

 

Miscellaneous

  • Make use of smoke alarms/ detectors to detect electrical fires.
  • Have a GFCI/ RCD installed, they will shut the power flow in an emergency.
  • Do not put water on an electrical fire. Use fire extinguishers or baking soda.

 

Electrical Safety at Workplace

Over the five years from 2012-2016, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that 739 workers suffered fatal injuries as a result of exposure to electricity. This is an eye-opener to Choosing the Right Electrician For All Electrical Work.

 

Workplace Health and Safety regulations state that every employer is responsible for the risk and injury that electrical hazards cause to the health of employees at the workplace. Every industry should form a group that sets specific guidelines to follow which include.

 

  • Work qualifications.
  • Tools: how to use and type.
  • Protective equipment.
  • Approval levels and attendance are required for various tasks.
  • Safe approach distances for qualified and unqualified personnel.
  • Awareness of electrical hazards.

 

Every company should formulate an ELECTRICAL SAFETY PROGRAM and provide formal training.

 

The Key to electrical safety is to follow safety regulations and standards. The OSHA regulation for electrical safe practices states the BASIC RULE as follows.

 

All Electrical Circuit Conductors, Bare Or Insulated, Are Assumed To Be Energized Until Proven Otherwise. They Shall Be De-energized, Locked Out, And Tested For The Absence Of Voltage Before Working On Them Or Working Near Them. Work On Electrical Circuit Conductors May Only Be Performed By Qualified Personnel Who Have Been Authorized To Do The Work.

 

The electrical hazards encountered at the workplace are mainly categorized into 3 types:

 

  1. Electrical shock
  2. Electrical burns
  3. Effects of blasts e.g.: Arc blast that includes pressure impact or flying vaporized conductors.

 

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) requirements

NFPA requires a Hazard Evaluation Procedure. Every company should conduct a FLASH HAZARD ANALYSIS at the workplace.

 

General electrical safety tips that these professionals need to adhere to in the workplace are as below:

 

  • OSHA requires that all electrical equipment and machinery must be properly grounded.
  • Regular machinery inspection should be mandatory.  Call a licensed electrician to fix issues in the inspection.
  • Never use untested equipment or equipment from an authorized testing lab.
  • Always unplug machinery before service or repair.
  • Use powered tools with GFCI breakers.
  • Never carry a tool by the cord.
  • Install proper machine guarding on machinery.
  • Ensure sufficient sockets are available to avoid electrical outlet overloads.
  • Ensure that there are no loose cables to prevent tripping hazards.
  • Use only non-conductive ladders when performing electrical work, welding, or where there is a danger of contact with electrical conductors.
  • Use Personal protective equipment like rubber gloves and overshoes.
  • Never operate electrical equipment in wet conditions.

 

Safety Devices

Electricity can pose a variety of risks if misused. Use electricity safety devices to guard the common individual against deadly electricity hazards.

 

Fuses

A Fuse consists of a simple metal strip that melts when excessive current passes through it. It absorbs the extra current to protect equipment from damage.

 

Therefore a fuse is a component inserted in a normal circuit that is easily sacrificed in case of an electric current overload.

 

Circuit Breakers

A circuit breaker is a device that shuts the flow of electric current in the event of a fault in the circuit or electrical overload. A circuit breaker can be manually reset whereas a fuse requires a replacement.

 

Four Types of Circuit Breakers

Miniature Circuit Breakers 

  • It works under the magnetic thermal release principle. It is used in low-voltage networks like houses and small electric circuits.
  • Moulded Case Circuit Breaker.
  • It is used in the case of high-power equipment.
  • Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker.
  • It protects the circuit from electrical leakage and breaks off in case a person gets a shock.

 

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters or RCD

A ground fault circuit interrupter is similar to a circuit breaker. It shuts off the flow of current when it senses an imbalance between incoming and outgoing current.

 

The main purpose is to guard the individual against an electric shock in the event of a short circuit or appliance malfunction.

 

The circuit breaker shuts the current in case of high current like 10 or 20 amps whereas a GFCI disconnects the circuit even in case of a current imbalance of 0.005 amps.

 

Earthing

  • It involves connecting appliances through a low-resistance wire directly to the ground.

 

Protective Relay

  • It is a device designed to trip a circuit breaker in case of an electrical fault. They work on electromagnetic induction.

 

Solid State Relay

  • It is a type of switching device that turns on or off when a particular small external voltage is applied across its terminals. It helps to switch from AC to DC and vice-versa.

 

Conclusion

As the old saying goes: “Prevention is better than cure”. Therefore it is the inherent duty and responsibility of every person to follow the set guidelines to maintain a safe electrical environment at home as well as in the workplace.

 

If you give somebody a hand, make sure there is a glove on it.

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