Avoid Outdoor Electrical Hazards
The arrival of spring brings warmer weather and an increase in outdoor work, both on the job and at home. Increasing electrical safety awareness can help ensure those activities do not result in injuries and deaths, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). ESFI notes that following safety rules can reduce electrical deaths and injuries:
- Ladders that contact a power line can prove fatal, even if the ladder is made of wood.
- Unplug outdoor tools and appliances when not in use.
- Inspect power tools and appliances for frayed cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housing and repair or replace damaged items.
- Water does not mix with electricity. Avoid damp conditions, including wet grass when using electricity.
Power Line Safety
ESFI also encourages those on the job to look up, look down, and look out for electrical safety hazards. On average, 325 people die and 4,400 are injured each year because of electrical hazards, according to data published by the National Safety Council. Electricity ranks sixth among all causes of occupational fatalities. The leading cause of fatal electrical incidents while on the job is contact with power lines, both above and below ground.
Workers using ladders or scaffolds, and those carrying aluminum siding, poles, fencing and even lumber, need to be aware and stay clear of power lines. Such contacts caused approximately 22 percent of the work related fatalities over a seven-year period, according to research (“Occupational Electrical Injuries in the US, 1992-1998,” published in the Journal of Safety Research). Eliminating power line contacts with equipment such as cranes, boom trucks and dump trucks could reduce workplace electrical fatalities by another 17 percent annually, the study suggests. The study also notes that construction workers, who make up approximately 7 percent of the U.S. workforce, suffer 44 percent of the electrical fatalities. Electrical safety experts suggest that the best insulator to keep workers safe from electricity is to stay at least 10 feet away from power lines.