In light of multiple electrical accidents which having been taking place recently, many of which have proven fatal, it is important that we recap general electrical safety on the construction site. Although the subject of electrical safety is too vast to cover in just one article, I have included some general electrical safety tips for workers on a construction site in general or those working near electrical hazards.
A 25 year old electrician recently died after being electrocuted while on a renovation site at a private residence in the Gippsland town of Yallourn North. The details of the accident haven’t been released as yet, as WorkSafe investigators are still looking into the incident but it is useful for construction workers to know how to avoid electrical injuries.
Site controllers should begin by conducting a risk assessment for the work to be undertaken and ensure that this cover electrical hazards as well, they may be vast but it is easy to overlook certain hazards.
Workers need to learn how to recognise electrical wires whether they be in the form of power lines, electrical wiring exposed on the site due to work processes being undertaken or cables buried underground.
Workers should look for electrical wires, cables or equipment near where they are going to work and check for signs warning of dangers from electricity or any other hazard. It is best to be aware and remember to look up, down and around you.
Workers that are digging or disturbing the earth or cutting surfaces, using excavators or other machinery to penetrate the ground, use a cable locator to locate buried electrical wires and permanently mark the position of those that you find.
Also work as far away from electrical wiring as possible. If you must work near electrical wiring or equipment, ensure that the electrical supply is turned off. Make sure the power is off and cannot be turned on again without you being aware and agreeing. There have been countless workers who were electrocuted because the electricity supply was unexpectedly turned on.
Identify where it is safe to work. Put up danger notices where there are still live electrical circuits, and warn your co-workers where it is safe to work and where it is not safe. Remember to remove notices at the end of the work.
If the electrical power has been turned off to allow you to do work safely, it is essential that the power stays off until you have finished work.
Another important consideration is that all workers are trained on general construction safety. This is a mandatory requirement and workers can complete this training online in the form of the White Card. The online White Card course covers Electrical Safety on the construction site in general.