By Jeff Washer, Master Electrician
Lights on! Every electrical job provides you with a new opportunity to improve your skills and add more experience to your construction career. What you need to do first though, is stay safe. At all times. You are going to work with electricity which creates great hazards and if not dealt with caution can cause serious injuries or even death. No matter how complex or how simple the project is, or how many times you have performed a similar task, never walk on the jobsite without staying focused on construction safety; both yours and your team’s. The following points will help you ensure electrical safety on the jobsite.
Know What You Are Up to
Do you ever get in your truck without first knowing where to go? You should ask yourself the same question before walking on the jobsite. Ask yourself, what type of electrical system will you be working on? What will you be required to do in order to complete the electrical job safely on time? Are the GFCIs working on the jobsite to reduce the risk of electric shock? Under what conditions are you going to work and what is the timetable you are given? Do you have to work at heights or on ground level? Before starting work, make sure you are aware of safety hazards and dangers and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. The more you know about your work environment and the needed requirements, the better prepared you are going to meet construction safety standards. Plan ahead and know what you will be up against.
Use the Proper Tools
If you have been doing this for some time, you know that in order to do an electrical job right, you need to use the right tools. This is a given. What is more important though, and what often gets ignored, is that these tools have to be in good working condition. There are numerous cases of electricians who got hurt because they tried to do work with the wrong equipment or because they used tools that weren’t supposed to be using. Don’t do that. Don’t undermine your electrical safety on the jobsite. Always make sure you have what you need to do your job safely and make sure that your tools work properly. For example, having a working non-contact voltage tester with you for use at all times is going to alert you from being exposed to live power. But remember to test the tester, by making sure its batteries are not dead and the tester works properly.
Stick to the Rules
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established electrical standards and codes to help professionals do their jobs properly and with construction safety in mind. In addition, a general contractor may already have a safety program designed specifically to reinforce electrical safety on a particular jobsite and may require you to complete a safety orientation before you begin working. Remember every jobsite is different, with different hazards, and may have different safety procedures to follow. When entering a jobsite sometimes it is mandatory and always a good idea to check in with a GC and ask them about any safety requirements of the jobsite. How familiar are you with OSHA standards and codes? How often do you revise them to make sure you are up-to-date and always in compliance? What are the lockout-tagout procedures for the project you work on? Keep in mind that these standards have been introduced to help you stay safe during an electrical job, so don’t make the mistake of ignoring them. Ask questions, educate yourself on local building codes and standards, especially if has been too long since the last time you worked on a jobsite.
If things go wrong during an electrical job, you have one last line of defense; your personal protective equipment (PPE). Don’t even think about walking on the jobsite without it. Wearing a hard hat while working for example, is going to minimize chances of getting a head injury and using fall protection equipment while working at heights is going to prevent you from a serious fall injury that may have resulted from being startled from an electrical spark. Keep in mind that sometimes it is not electricity itself that causes injuries but rather the circumstances created by it and for which you need to be prepared.
Stay Plugged In
A moment. That’s all it takes for your electrical safety on the jobsite to be at risk. Working with electricity demands your full attention and professionalism. Remember that your work is directly connected with the construction safety of everyone who works with or around you. Using the wrong tools for the task, having live cables exposed or leaving extension cords lying across a walk way are some oversights to avoid. No matter how easy something looks or how many times you have done it, always stay focused, take your time and approach the situation safely. Put on your thinking hat on; it is about your safety.
Key Takeaways for Electrician Safety Tips:
- Know what you have to do and under what conditions
- Use the right tools for the job you are performing
- Be up-to-date with building standards and codes
- Never work without the necessary PPE
- Stay focused on doing your job safely
Founded in 1993, TradeSource is a construction labor solutions firm focused on delivering labor solutions to contractors throughout the United States. By supplying skilled tradespeople – where and when they’re needed – we help contractors grow their companies, without the associated costs and hassles of full-time hires. Likewise, we match qualified employees with rewarding and well-paying job opportunities in the construction industry. www.tradesource.com