Renovation work can present certain risks that workers need to be aware of. Whilst employers must ensure that workers are trained on all hazards and safety measures, there is one hazard that many workers often overlook when they’re working on renovation sites, that is electrical systems in buildings.
Some experts say that refurbishment work in buildings presents the greatest risk and therefore must be planned carefully and managed even more cuatiously. The process must be closely supervised to ensure that workers aren’t exposed to risk from electricity.
It goes without saying that specific specialist electrical work should only be undertaken by those who are trained and competent to do so and these specialists will obviously work to the strictest procedures however this doesn’t mean that other workers won’t come into contact with electrical systems.
Before beginning work, workers should check that the electrical equipment they are using is safe and has been properly maintained.
Even qualified electricians sometimes find themselves in dangerous situations involving electricity and most accidents happen when people work on or close to equipment that is either assumed to be dead but is actually live or is known to be live but adequate precautions have not been taken to protect workers.
One of the greatest risks is that electricity can kill without any warning – you cannot see, feel, hear or smell electricity so there is little likelihood of advanced warning.
Renovation and refurbishment sites present an electrical hazard to all workers, not just electricians.
Often workers on renovation and refurbishment sites such as plumbers and joiners are electrocuted, it isn’t only electricians that are at risk. It is important that all workers on site understand how the electrical system works, ensure that the system is not live that they are working with, electrical tools are regularly inspected, residual current (trip) devices are properly installed and checked and cabling and bulbs are protected against breakage.
The site planners need to ensure that the electrical system of the building is properly located and understood so that work can be planned and managed so that the workforce is not placed at risk.
During refurbishment, the relevant parts of the electrical system should be isolated to avoid electrocution of workers.
Employers should ensure that power tools are regularly inspected and removed from service if they are damaged. Tools should only be serviced or fixed by people qualified to do so.
RCDs must be properly installed and enclosed. They should also be checked daily and always treated with care. Ensure they are kept free of moisture and/or dirt and protected against vibration and mechanical damage.
Bulbs and cabling should be protected against breakage. If a bulb breaks, the exposed filament may present a hazard to workers. That is why principal contractors should have a system in place for checking bulbs regularly to maintain electrical safety and to keep the site well-lit.