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Electrical Safety in the Workplace
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Many businesses adopt the motto "Safety First" because it sounds good and presents a good corporate image, but how many businesses have truly taken the time to determine the level of danger or threat to their employees' safety? Fewer than you think. And with offices and warehouses becoming even more crowded with computers, copiers, scanners, machinery, and other electronic devices, the danger for electrical problems (including fire) skyrockets.
Electrical Fire Safety Tips
Electrical issues can commonly be addressed through a simple inspection of the workplace and "shockproofing" the environment. Check all power cords on a regular basis – are they in good condition, or are they frayed and worn out? Any outdoor cords should be designed for outdoor use and properly equipped with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) to prevent the risk of shock.
Ensure extension cords and electrical products are listed by an independent testing facility such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), CSA, ETL or MET labs, and are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the appliance or tool being plugged into it.
Power tools should never be carried by their cords since this could result in the cord being broken or frayed. Power tools should also be switched to the "off" position while they are being plugged in to avoid injury. Most companies also have a Lockout/Tagout procedure for de-energizing equipment following use. Make sure this procedure is followed to the letter in order to avoid injury or electrocution.
If you find yourself working around power lines, make sure you are aware of your proximity to them at all times. If lines are underground, contact the local utility company before starting any work. Make sure others in the area are aware of any power lines or electrical hazards, and keep ladders, poles, and other equipment at least 10-15 feet away from any power line that you see. Any electrical hazards should be immediately reported to your superior.
Electrical fires are among the most dangerous types of fire, namely because throwing water on them may not work and can actually make the problem worse. If any electrical equipment catches fire, it should be unplugged or the power interrupted at the main switch. Fire extinguishers are the preferred tool when battling an electrical fire, and any call to the fire department should include the information that they are dealing with an electrical blaze.
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