How to Stay Safe as an Electrician: Best Practices for Working with Electricity
When you work with electricity, either as a DIY project or as a professional, there’s a lot to take into consideration when working that wire. One of the biggest considerations that should cross anyone’s mind is safety.
Safety in the workplace is one of the reasons that we have companies such as OSHA to ensure safe working environments. As an electrician you’re not always going to be in a work environment that falls underneath those OSHA rules. You may be going to a house, you may be working the lines, you never know…
No matter where you are or how you are approaching electricity and all that goes along with it, it’s important to remember these safety tips and best practices that will keep you from sizzling.
Always Wear Safety Gear
I’m sure you hear this more often than not: wear your safety gear! The reason why this gear has been selected as necessary for working with electricity is because it keeps you safe from fires, keeps you grounded, and ensures you stay in your best working condition.
Items such as rubber soled boots, flame retardant clothing, masks, safety hats, and more are all types of safety equipment that could be needed when working a job.
The items that you wear are going to direct electricity around your body should a wire become faulty. If you’re walking through a puddle of water and a live wire touches it, you’re going to be pretty happy about those rubber-sole boots.
Flame retardant clothing is also an absolute necessity due to the possibility of sparks flying around you. This will save you from many burns and also keep you from having to buy new shirts all the time.
Keep Yourself Grounded
Generally speaking, most wires are going to have a total of three separate wires within them. One runs the electricity to wherever it needs to go, one acts as a ground, and the third acts as a neutral ground just in the grounding wire fails.
In these types of cases, that is when a wire fails, you have to be grounded. Part of this is through using rubber boots, part of this is through making sure you are touching a wall when dealing with electricity and electrical elements, and part of it is also ensuring that all electrical items are turned off while you’re working on them.
Each of these steps will help keep you grounded and safe.
Assume Everything is Live
At one point in time I didn’t understand what grounding was. I also didn’t assume that a specific socket was live due to an electrical outage. You can guess what happened next: I got the shock of my life and found out what tin tastes like. Now that was a small instance rather than something larger like working on a building or the electrical system for a house.
One place that any electrician is going to have to assume a live electrical situation, is when they’re working the lines on telephone poles. In any situation it’s important to always assume that what you are working on has some form of electricity running through it. Even if all switches have been turned, and all meters read zero voltage, that does not mean that something cannot suddenly become live.
Use the Right Tools
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “learn the tools of your trade”, then you might be aware of the fact that electricians have to use specific tools to get specific jobs done. Most tools for electricians are constructed with additional elements of grounding that protect them from surges.
Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what tools you need so check out this awesome review from SelfGood here. Using the right tools is also something that is not just a best practice, but it is an act that could save your life.
Clear the Area
Working in a cluttered area can make it very difficult to stay safe. While you may be closer to items that allow you to ground yourself, having different pieces of furniture, additional equipment, and more in your way can cause a great deal of injury.
When and if possible, ensure that your area is clear of anything that you could trip on, anything that could interrupt the flow of electricity, and anything else that might possibly lead to an issue
First Aid Kits are a Must
This may seem like something that you would think of immediately, but that’s not always true for everyone. No matter what type of site you are going into, ensure that you have a first aid kit ready and available with you at all times. Good things to include are burn ointments, bandages, and disposable ice packs.
In using all of these tips, there’s one final thing to keep in mind: have a plan. When you have a plan in place as to what to do if something does go wrong, all of your preparation will help keep you in the safest state possible until emergency responders are able to reach you. Stay safe, follow these guidelines, and you’ll be good to go!