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OSHA Electrical Safety

Over the last 10 years, more than 46,000 US workers have been injured from on-the-job electrical hazards. These types of injuries are not isolated to any one industry or one field or work. It could happen to anyone when they leat expect it. Fortunately, workers can choose to protect themselves from these threats. During the work day, a worker is hurt every 30 minutes so severely from electricity that it requires time off the job. Recovery from electrical shocks and burns is slow and painful. But, it could be worse. Nearly 300 workers die from work related electrical injuries each year. Choosing safety is a decision that affects families, friends, and colleagues.

 

Electricity and electrical products play fundamental roles in how we do business each day. However, if not used or maintained appropriately, they can pose serious risks. The good news is that following a few basic steps can prevent most on-the-job electrocutions and electrical injuries.

Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and salespeople, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.



 

OSHA Electrical Standards

Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and salespeople, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.

 

OSHA, NFPA 70E and NEC work together

OSHA is at the top of the food chain of all safety requirements in the workplace and is federally enforceable – "It's the Law." Safety violations are governed by the regulations of OSHA Title 29 CFR but, in many cases, OSHA only provides general rules regarding safety.

Based on OSHA's general duty clause, consensus standards such as NFPA 70E must be used for the details and are proof that an employer was being reasonable in providing a safe workplace. Although NFPA 70E was developed to specifically assist OSHA in the area of electrical safety, portions of the NEC are incorporated into NFPA 70E -- or have been in the past --and portions of both 70E and the NEC are incorporated into OSHA regulations. So, all three of these entities work together to form the big picture in electrical safety. This strategy is intended to provide for safe installation and safe work practices necessary for worker safety. And the NEC and NFPA 70E are a practical consensus-based solution to the OSHA regulations.

 

OSHA Electrical Hazard Recognition

Many workers are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to the danger of electrocution. The following references aid in recognizing hazards associated with electrical work.

·         Working Safely with Electricity. OSHA Fact Sheet, 353 KB PDF, 2 pages. Provides safety information on working with generators, power lines, extension cords, and electrical equipment.

·         Portable Generator Safety. OSHA Quick Card, 19 KB PDF, page. A 19 KB PDF (Spanish version) is also available. Includes information on the major causes of injuries and fatalities, safe work practices, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

·         Using Portable Generators Safely. OSHA Fact Sheet, 22 KB PDF, 2 pages. Provides safety information on the hazards associated with generators, shock and electrocution, carbon monoxide poisoning, fire hazards, and noise and vibration hazards.

·         Electrical Safety Hazards of Overloading Cable Trays.

o    Small Business book. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005).

·         Construction - Pocket Guide. OSHA Publication 3252, (2005).

·         OSHA Assistance for the Maritime Industry. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Provides employers and maritime workers with information and assistance to help in complying with OSHA standards and in ensuring a safe workplace.

·         Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard Mills. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Workers in the pulp, paper, and paperboard mills industry may be exposed to significant electrical hazards in the workplace. This page provides links to safety and health information.

·         Construction Industry Safety and Health Outreach Program. OSHA, (1996, May). Contains reference materials to assist instructors in providing training on construction industry safety and health topics to entry-level participants. There are three sections pertaining to electrical standards for construction:

o    Electrical Standards for Construction at workplaces 

o    Ground-Fault Protection on Construction Sites

o    Hazardous (Classified) Locations



·         National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Safety and Health Topic. Provides links to information about electrical safety and electrocutions.

·         Electrical Safety: Safety and Health for Electrical Trades Student Manual. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Publication No. 2002-123, (2002, January), 2 MB PDF, 88 pages. This student manual is part of a safety and health curriculum for secondary and post-secondary electrical trades courses. It is designed to engage the learner in recognizing, evaluating, and controlling hazards associated with electrical work.

·         Fire Fighters Exposed to Electrical Hazards During Wildland Fire Operations. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-112, (2002, January).

·         Electrocutions Fatality Investigation Reports. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Safety and Health Topic. Provides information regarding hundreds of fatal incidents involving electrocutions investigated by NIOSH and state investigators.

·         Worker Deaths by Electrocution: A Summary of Surveillance Findings and Investigative Case Reports. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 98-131, (1998, May). Highlights the magnitude of the problem of occupational electrocutions in the US, identifies potential risk factors for fatal injury, and provides recommendations for developing effective safety programs to reduce the risk of electrocution.

·         Electrical Safety in Construction. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health (eLCOSH).

 

 Click here for more information regarding OSHA Electrical 

 
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