Today's workplace covers a broad spectrum of environments -- office buildings, industrial plants, construction sites and retail businesses to name just a few examples. While working environments differ, most businesses depend on electricity for many aspects of their operations.
The following list of safety reminders is a compilation of generally accepted practices. It should be adapted or modified to address the unique aspects of your working environment, your company policies, and local and/or state and federal regulations.
- Look up above! Electrical safety is important wherever you work, but it is especially important if you work out of doors with cranes, harvesters, or other tall equipment. Before beginning work, always survey the job site carefully. Keep yourself, ladders and other equipment at least twenty feet away from the power lines at all times. Anticipate electrical hazards and plan around them. State and federal safety standards exist to protect workers and provide safe working conditions near power lines. Follow them.
- Before you dig, call Miss Dig at 811. State law requires that you contact Miss Dig at least 72 hours before beginning any excavating work. Miss Dig will arrange to have the utility locations marked, free of charge.
- Keep up to date. It is always important to keep your building's wiring up to date. As your business adds or replaces electrical equipment, it’s important that your electrical system is capable of safely handling these changes. Frequently blown fuses or tripped circuits are symptoms of electrical problems, usually overloaded outlets or circuits. Don't ignore the symptoms; you could be ignoring a fire hazard. Consult a licensed electrician for assistance.
- Lock out accidents. As a general practice, unplug tools and equipment before cleaning, adjusting, or repairing them. Lock the power switch in the "off" position and pull fuses to prevent another person or a time clock from starting equipment under repair. Replace guards over augers, chains and belts before unlocking or re-fusing the power switch. Always follow the lockout, tagout and grounding procedures appropriate for your work environment.
- Beware of hydrogen gas. A small amount of hydrogen gas is almost always present in a battery case. Flames, smoking, or sparks from jumper cables can touch off an explosion that will send battery acid and case fragments flying. Use jumper cables properly, making the last clamp on (and first clamp off) to the motor or frame, rather than to the terminals of the weak battery.
- Prevent stray voltage. On a farm, insufficient or improper grounding, unbalanced electrical loads or faulty electrical equipment may cause stray voltage. Have a licensed electrician test the wiring and connections in your farm buildings and equipment. Stray voltage may also be caused by off-farm sources. If your electrician confirms that the neutral-to-earth voltage problem is caused by an off-farm source, please call us at 800.477.4747.
- Inspect regularly. Whether you're working indoors or out, inspect cords and plugs regularly and replace damaged ones. Prevent damage by pulling the plug, not the cord, when unplugging equipment.
- Extension cords are for temporary use. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is the right capacity for the tool or equipment with which it is used. Keep slack in flexible cords to prevent tension on electrical terminals. Use extension cords with polarized plugs.
- For outdoor use, select tools and equipment with heavier wiring, special insulation and a three-prong, grounded plug. Indoors or outdoors use appliances, tools, lighting and extension cords approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
- Water and electricity don't mix. Be sure that outdoor outlets and outlets near wet areas (kitchen, lavatory, garage, etc.) have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to prevent serious shock injuries. If you're using equipment that sprays water, avoid spray contact with overhead lines. Never step into a flooded area if water is in contact with electrical outlets, equipment, or cords.