PREPARE FOR THE WORST! Electrical Workplace Injuries and FatalitiesWritten by: Jackson Systems
When we talk about workplace safety in the trades industry, most people think about OSHA, neon-striped vests, and masks. All those things may be a part of maintaining workplace safety, but realistically it’s about protecting people in the trades industry from the chance of serious injury or death. May is Electrical Safety Month and, in honor of the occasion, we are doing a deep dive on electrical fatality statistics, discussing electrical safety habits to practice every day in the field or at home, and making some product recommendations that keep you safe and out of danger.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks occupational fatality data across the country. According to their findings between 2011-2020, 65% of all workplace electrical fatalities happen in service-providing industries. This industry category includes construction, extraction, installation, maintenance & repair.
The construction industry leads all of the groups with the highest total number of electrical fatalities. Within that trade, electricians, construction laborers, roofers, painters, and carpenters are at the highest risk of potential death on site. That’s why it’s crucial to keep tradesmen informed about the potential risk they face every day on the jobsite.
ESFI (Electrical Safety Foundation International) is a great asset and provides unique safety training solutions across the country. Through public awareness campaigns, partnering with corporations/industry programs to design consistent education programs and resources, and expert electrical safety advice for anyone who works with/encounters electricity in their job or personal life. ESFI works to establish foundational knowledge of electrical safety procedures so you can have the confidence that your team is aware and safe.
Through proper workplace safety practices and oversight of hazardous materials and conductors, we can reduce the risk of death and keep tradesmen safe from workplace accidents. According to the ESFL “Contact with wiring, transformers, or other electrical components” make up a large portion of these fatalities, highlighting the risk associated with every day onsite tasks that may seem trivial and part of everyday routines.
The biggest danger lies in electricity’s lack of sight, smell, and taste. It relies on a keen eye for signals, a deep understanding of the equipment and tools in use, and overall well-trained professionals with a respect for proper safety protocol and standards. Without these traits, tradesmen are rolling the dice every time they interact with high voltage machinery and equipment.
ESFI’s vault of video safety resources is a great place to start when doing research on how you can reduce your risk of electrical injuries and fatalities. They dive in and tackle FAQs, common situational occurrences, and even provide foreign language safety training portals for anyone who doesn’t speak English fluently. They also highlight common OSHA violations that lead to serious injuries or fatalities while recommending proper protective equipment depending on the job.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) can sometimes be the last hope in stopping a serious workplace injury or fatality and yet, it’s commonly overlooked by tradesmen as an unnecessary burden on site. Here at Jackson Systems & Supply, we stock a great selection of PPE, meters, and high-grade electrical equipment to ensure industry workers stay as safe as possible on site.
Let’s dissect some of the best products on the job for electricity protection and reliability.
Test instruments are a crucial piece of the puzzle to keeping yourself and others around you safe. The UEi G3 Phoenix clamp meter allows for ultimate control with high-quality readings tradesmen depend on. Everything from amp inrush, capacitance, AC microamps, 600A AC, 1000V DC, resistance, and much more are offered by the UEi G3 Phoenix allowing you to have all of those readings in one tool, right at your fingertips. UEi products are critical to maintaining proper safety standards and it’s apparent in all of their test instruments and products.
The Klein Circuit Breaker Finder ET310 is a unique approach to electrical safety. The transmitter is connected to the electrical outlet or fixture in the circuit while the receiver is used to test breakers in the panel. It can quickly detect and locate the correct circuit breaker in a panel that’s associated with a circuit. This tool is great! Why risk working on a live outlet when you can verify the correct circuit has been turned off? When not in use, the transmitter docks in the receiver for convenient storage as a single item. It has CAT II 120V safety rating and includes the transmitter, receiver, user manual, and 9V battery for the receiver.
The 56414 rechargeable headlamp from Klein Tools may seem like an obvious reminder of having proper lighting when working on electrical equipment, but it’s the reliability of this product that stands out. With correct settings, this headlamp can last up to 40 hours on one charge and offers a variety of LED colors, brightness, and strobe options to fit your specific needs. The versatility of this rechargeable headlamp can also be a game-changer. You can also remove the light from the bracket for recharging or to utilize the light directly on hard hats instead of the strap. It’s also magnetic for easy movement and adjustment to fit any lighting scenario. The Klein 56414 Rechargeable Headlamp is a great way to maintain the necessary vision on the job when working with high voltage equipment.
The ICM530 from ICM Controls is a type 1 and type 2 three-phase surge protective device. When an electrical surge occurs, the ICM 530 will absorb the surge up to 240 VAC Delta or 120/208 VAC Wye. What sets ICM apart is thermally protected metal oxide varistor technology that separates the surge into 3 suppressor phases. It’s great for indoor and outdoor applications and a great way to maintain a safe configuration within an electrical panel.
Regardless of your experience level, position, or location, there’s always room to learn and improve on your workplace safety practices. $1.4 billion dollars in property damage occurs each year due to electrical malfunctions. Don’t be part of that statistic, keep yourself safe and everyone around you by maintaining proper safety protocol, waring recommended PPE, and looking after fellow coworkers and those in the area. For more information on how you can avoid electrical accidents, visit esfi.org for resources and program initiatives.