Electrical Safety & Electrical Hazards
Electricity delivers a knockout punch if you get zapped! Majority of electrical hazards can be averted when the correct safety procedures are followed.
Remember, electricity is a potential fire source and most house fires are caused by an electrical fault.
Ensure that electrical equipment and appliances undergoes a regular tag and test.
For businesses and your insurance policies, tagging and testing is an annual requirement and it could save a life. Don’t let faulty appliances come to you as a shock.
What is Electrical Safety?
The electrical safety act 2002 is a law that outlines what you must do to prevent people being killed or injured and property being destroyed or damaged by electricity.
The business or business owner has the primary duty of care under the Electrical Safety Act.
In the Act this is referred to as a ‘PCBU’, which stands for ‘Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking’.
A PCBU can be a person if they are a sole trader or self-employed, but it usually refers to a business entity such as a company, or an undertaking such as a not-for-profit organisation.
The PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the electrical safety of workers at the workplace.
This means the business or business owner must do what they are reasonably able to do to ensure the electrical safety of workers and others like volunteers and visitors.
Duties, or responsibilities, are also placed on managers, supervisors and, workers at a workplace.
As an employer or a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) you have duties to ensure your workplace is safe from dangers that may be caused by electrical equipment.
As part of your duties under electrical safety laws, you must ensure electrical equipment is kept in a safe condition. These duties include:
- protecting extension leads and flexible cables from damage
- using safety switches in certain situations
- inspecting, testing and tagging certain electrical equipment on a regular basis
- removing defective equipment
- ensuring safety switches are working properly
- avoiding the use of double adapters and piggyback plugs for certain work
- ensuring extension cords are regularly tested and tagged.
This guide provides a summary of electrical workplace safety practices.
Damaged Tools and Equipment
The first step is to never use damaged or defective electrical tools or equipment. Tools and equipment must be in good working condition, with proper safeguards installed and working properly.
Have more frequent checks for items more likely to become damaged (eg portable electrical tools and equipment that is regularly moved, or used frequently or in arduous environments).
This, in addition to conducting toolbox talks on electrical safety and other topics, builds that culture of safety and knowledge of safety which will really impact your safety results – and the wellbeing of your workers.
The electrical equipment you are using poses a big risk in the form ofdamaged equipment, incorrect tools for the job and tools being left on pose the biggest risk when it comes to the equipment itself.
Electrical Hazards and Electrical Safety Tips
Safety precautions for working with electricity depend on the worker’s job instructions and their working environment. However, the most basic electrical safety precautions include clearly understanding how electricity works, being able to identify and eliminate electrical hazards such as poor cable management and lack of proper housekeeping, and wearing the appropriate ppe.
One safety hazard that virtually every facility will have is electrical hazards. The discovery and harnessing of electricity have done more to change the world than just about anything else in history.
Electrical safety in the home
Electrical safety equipment should also be used when doing specific types of electrical testing, repair work, installation or maintenance such as arc flash and customized earthing and short circuiting, among others.
All electrical work should have a compliance certificate done.
The document recording an electrical safety check should provide:. The full name and business details, including license number of the electrician who did the check.
Top tips for electricity safety at home
Check your wires
If you have wiring that is exposed, not only can it compromise more than just the safety of your appliances – they could be life threatening.
To protect people and pets from electrocution. Update your fuse board and have RCD's installed. Electrocution happens when electricity finds a path through a person, often due to faulty appliances and circuits that are old, damaged or have dodgy wiring.
Install surge protectors
To protect your appliances,add surge protectors in areas where a number of appliances are often used at once, such as living or lounge rooms.
Do not overload a power point
Something that everyone has been guilty off before, but is also incredibly dangerous, is overloading your sockets. While it can be difficult at times, with the massive array of appliances that all need to be charged or plugged in at once, overloading your electrical outlets could cause a fuse in your home to blow which could lead to far more serious consequences.
Watch where you leave extension cords
Be careful where you put extension cords. If they're dragged near water or stretched to their limit they can become a hazard.
Know where your switchboard is
Ensure you're aware of the location of your switchboard. This information could save lives.
Keep over head power lines in sight
When doing DIY work at heights, keep overhead power lines in sight and don't stray too close.
Avoid underground wires
If you are renovating your yard, ensure you do not damage cabling that is underground. You can call Dial Before You Dig . It is Australia’s free referral service for information on the location of underground infrastructure. The service is designed to protect Australia’s network of underground pipes and cables
Keep appliances out of reach of kids
Don't leave cables or electrical devices where children can pull on them. Particularly for TVs that are on high set surfaces.
Qualified electricians for all electrical work
Electricity is dangerous. Electricians are required to do all electrical work. The only thing a non electrician can do is to change light bulbs.
Electrical safety at home
By global standards, Australia is very regulated and stringent with electrical safety.
- For new homeowners, builders and electrical contractors, one of the major changes in the new rules include fitting RCDs, or safety switches as we commonly know them, to all electrical circuits, including hardwired devices or appliances such as air-conditioning systems, electric cooker ovens, pool pumps and other hardwired units that previously were exempt.
- For home renovators, some certain alterations on electrical work may also require compliance with the new regulations.
- An example of this could be simply adding another power point into an existing home will now require a safety switch fitted to that circuit.
Current legislation remains for rental properties and homes sold. Although safety switches cannot prevent every type of potential electrical accident, there is unilateral industry agreement on the positive changes. Electrical safety products such as RCDs also need regular testing to ensure they are in optimal operating condition; as a homeowner, it is recommended the test button is used once a month to ensure the RCD is operating correctly.
Hire the right electrician for the job
All electricians have different areas of expertise and some have undertaken extra qualifications
- Residential electricians: Plan, install and maintain the electrical systems of residential properties, including lighting fixture, power outlets and heating/ventilation systems.
- Commercial electricians: Similar work to residential electricians, but with a focus on commercial buildings such as large-scale office blocks.
- Emergency electricians: Are on call 24/7, or outside of typical working hours, in order to quickly repair any electrical issues that may arise unexpectedly and need to be fixed.
- Specialist electricians: Make up a very broad category, comprising everything from refrigeration experts to electricians that focus exclusively on installing solar panels.
- Construction electricians: Work on buildings as they’re being built, ensuring their electrical systems are optimised for the property’s eventual use.