Our local electricians are tasked to tend to the “spark” that lights up homes, offices, and establishments across Australia. It’s quite humbling when one realises that these folks continue to work in the profession despite the risks, knowing how vital a resource electricity is to other people and to the economy in general. The fact remains, however, that electricians’ work in environments that can be hazardous to their lives and well-being.
On a daily basis, electricians are exposed to high-voltage scenarios and often deal with powerful and complex equipment, thus encountering myriad safety hazards in the workplace. A survey conducted by Safe Work Australia cited that coming in contact with electricity was the sixth most frequent cause of workplace-related fatalities in the years 2012 to 2016.
Thus, a truly responsible electrician would know the importance of upholding electrical safety practices. They would armour themselves with knowledge of electrical safety standards, acquire skills and training to protect themselves on the job, and adopt a common-sense approach to all electrical operations. This is a mindset that can not only prevent the occurrence of a serious workplace accident but also save lives.
If you are an electrician, what are the best practices that you follow when doing your work? What are some constant reminders that you can pass on for the safety of your fellow tradesmen? We’ve compiled our own set of safety tips that we hope can be a good reference to Australian electricians everywhere.
Be well-versed in Australia’s electrical safety codes
The Electrical Safety Act of 2002 was signed into law with the intention of lessening the deaths, injuries, and destruction caused by electrical accidents. But other national and state bodies also issue regular memoranda governing the obligations of electricians. Revisit these codes in order to familiarise yourself with national and local electrical standards and regulations. The profession is always evolving, and so it follows that the safety standards evolve as well.
Get better at assessing risks in electrically hazardous situations, and be prepared to act in case of emergency
Electricians typically undergo advanced first aid training in performing CPR and low-voltage rescue procedures, as the risks in the profession call for knowledge beyond general first aid techniques. Electrical workers are in danger of being exposed to 50 volts of electricity or more, i.e. electrical levels that are strong enough to cause cardiac arrest. When it’s time to renew your first aid training credentials with a training organisation, be astute and refine both your technique and your risk assessment skills.
Observe the rule of working in pairs
If it is possible, complete any dangerous electrical projects with the help of a partner. This won’t only help in distributing the workload, it also ensures that at least one other person will be on the site, ready to administer first aid or ask for help in case one of you gets into an accident.
Wear protective gear
Wearing personal protective equipment or PPE is of utmost importance when you’re on the job. An electrician should have the following on their person: a hard helmet, shatter-proof eye protection, electrical gloves, and dielectric/non-conductive boots. Protective clothing also addresses the issue of excessive sweat, which can be dangerous if the sweat comes in contact with live electrical current.
Never mix electricity and water
Water increases conductivity, and every electrician knows that exposing electrical equipment to even just a little bit of water can increase the chances of an accident occurring. By no means should you approach an electrical circuit if your hands are wet, if you’re perspiring, or if you’re standing on a wet floor.
Keep a common-sense approach when it comes to tools, devices, and your work environment
Some practices to keep in mind are the following: treat every device as if it is energised (better safe than sorry); immediately report any damage you see on cords, installation, or plugs; refrain from using any other electrician’s gear or devices without their consent; and clean up any mess on your work site as you go. By doing these, you can actively reduce the risk of careless contact, trip-ups, or accidental shocks.
To those standing on the sidelines, these tips may be quite a lot to take in. However, a responsible electrician will understand that it’s all in a day’s work. They know that such conscientiousness with safety will only increase the value of their service to their clients, organisation, or local community.
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