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Why is it so important to work safely with or near electricity?

The voltage of the electricity and the available electrical current in regular businesses and homes has enough power to cause death by electrocution. Even changing a light bulb without unplugging the lamp can be hazardous because coming in contact with the "hot", "energized" or "live" part of the socket could kill a person.


Avoid the following unsafe acts:
  • Failure to de-energize, lockout & tagout hazards during maintenance, repair or inspections.
  • Use of defective and unsafe tools.
  • Use of tools or equipment too close to energized parts.
  • Not draining off stored energy in capacitors.
  • Using 3-wire cord with a 2-wire plug.
  • Removing the third prong (ground pin) to make a 3-prong plug fit a 2-prong outlet.
  • Overloading outlets with too many appliances.
  • Using the attached electrical cord to raise or lower equipment.
  • Not verifying power is off when making repair (drilling into a 110 Volt a.c. line can kill).
  • Working in an elevated position near overhead lines.


How Electricity Can Harm You

Current passing through your body can cause electric shock, resulting in 3 types of potential injuries:

  1. Burns (arcs burn with heat & radiation)
  • Physical injuries (broken bones, falls, & muscle damage)
    • At 10 mA, the muscles clamp on to whatever the person is holding.
  • Nervous system effects (stop breathing at 30 to 75 mA alternating current at 60Hz, fibrillation at 75 to 100 mA at 60Hz)
    • Fibrillation = heart is "twitching" and there is no blood flow to the body.

Description: http://ehs.okstate.edu/images/dots/RED.GIF

The heart can be damaged because it is in the path of the most common routes electricity will take through the body:

  • Hand-to-hand
  • Hand-to-foot


Some common causes of unsafe equipment:

  • Loose connections
  • Faulty insulation
  • Improper grounding (removal of 3rd prong)
  • Use of "homemade" extension cords
  • Defective parts
  • Unguarded live parts--for example:
    • Bare conductors or exposed terminals
    • Metal parts of equipment may become energeized when connected by cord or plug.  Capacitance may cause up to 55% of line voltage to be stored on the casing of metal tools.


Shock current


Basic Safety