Accidents are just that, they happen by chance and not on purpose. In fact, after an accident workers are often heard saying how safe a particular electrician “always was”… until the day he or she wasn’t. Accidents where workers think energized circuits are dead claim the lives of electricians every day. Many electricians have consciously chosen to work on circuits that were energized without applying the principles found in NFPA 70E, and sadly, many have been killed or seriously injured as a result.
What are some common mistakes?
- Tracing out wrong conductors
- Not properly verifying the circuit is in an electrically-safe working condition
- Being unaware of back-up or emergency circuits and connections
- Failing to wear appropriate PPE, especially arc rated FR clothing and voltage-rated gloves
Unfortunately, these mistakes can be life-ending, so it’s important to teach electricians to consider all possibilities when working on and around existing equipment. A common theme in many accidents is that the worker never thought an incident would happen to him, especially if he was trained, and therefore “qualified” to work on energized parts.
Today, many electrical contractors have adopted policies prohibiting work on energized equipment except for testing and troubleshooting by a qualified person wearing appropriate PPE, or in situations that are deemed a greater hazard as defined by OSHA regulations.
A sad trend that the industry has experienced includes incidents that occur when workers thought they had properly prepared for the task at hand but unknown or unforeseen circumstances resulted in an incident. In some cases, the electrician did not perform the verification process adequately and removed PPE based on his or her own experience and observations.
By changing worker culture to prepare, plan and thoroughly verify, we can change the attitude of today’s electricians and future electricians to make working safely a priority.
Read the full article by Wesley Wheeler, National Director of Safety at NECA, on page 18 of the January 2016 edition of Flame Resistant Insights.