Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Electrical safety improvements are a common issue we identify at many sites and workplaces. Many of these issues are minor to remediate, but could be catastrophic if left unattended.
Electrical hazards aren’t always highly visible, so electrical safety tends to be
viewed as something for electricians or technical experts to worry about. For most
workers electrical dangers are simply not on their radar.
Remember there is no device that can offer you 100% protection from electrocution.
It is important that you remember to keep safe.
There are two ways that electricity hazards can cause harm.
• Electric Shock - electrical current passing through your body.
Electric shock can cause severe burns and potentially dangerous involuntary
movements. An electric shock can be fatal if it passes through vital organs.
• Arc Flash - release of energy.
Arc Flash can result in blast injuries, lung injuries, ruptured eardrums, shrapnel
wounds, severe burns and blindness. Arc Flash can be fatal.
Common Electrical Safety Failures
During site inspections we often see these common electrical safety failures.
In your next site inspection keep these in mind and identify any electrical
improvements that could be made at your workplace.
• Tangled electrical cords. Ensure cords are organised and a cord to an
electrical source is easily identifiable.
• Overloaded or “Piggy backing” of power boards or extension leads.
• Non-commercial power boards or extension cords.
• Cords causing trip issues in pathways.
• Rubbish, dust, paper based materials or liquids stored near to electrical
outlets or electrical equipment.
• Damaged equipment or cords used.
• Tools and electrical equipment being left on when not in use.
• Using electrical equipment near water or having the cord in water.
• Using equipment close to overhead power lines.
• Incorrect equipment for the job
General Lifesaving Tips for Working Near Electricity
When working with or near electricity it is important to consider all electrical
wires and equipment are live until they are tested and proven otherwise.
Some other important tips to consider are:
• Turn off the switch before unplugging leads
• Display safety signage and / or update hazard board when electrical work is
being carried out.
• Inspect cords, plugs and electrical equipment before each use. Lock Out,
repair or replace any damage equipment immediately.
• Secure extension cords or power boards to the wall or floor where possible.
• Use extension cords or equipment that are rated for your type of work
• Avoid exposed wiring.
• Warm or Hot outlets can be a sign of unsafe wiring conditions.
• Use ladders made with non conductive material (fiberglass)
• Locate electrical panels and circuit breakers in case of an emergency.
Ensure pathways are clear and accessible.
• Use Lock Out equipment as required.
• Use equipment with Residual Current Device (RCD) when using heavy duty
• Keep electrical equipment away from water, liquids and any other materials
that could become ignited.
Tag & Test
It is best practice for electrical appliances, tools and
leads to undergo regular testing or “test and tag”. The
frequency of testing a device is determined by where it is used:
• New appliance - before first use
• Building site - every 3 months
• Factories - every 6 months
• Office Equipment - either yearly or up to five years
in some situations (seek electricians advice)
• Refer to AS/NZS3760:2010
Even when items have been tested and tagged before using, best practice recommends
• Using the inbuilt testing button to manually test RCDs before use
• Checking all electrical appliance tools prior to use
• Where faults are detected, apply “Out of Order” / Lockout tags until repaired by a Registered Electrician
Our team are available if you require assistance with an electrical safety
review. Please contact us if you require any advice or check out our website.
Keep your eyes open for our next Safety Talk - Lockout and De-energise