When it comes to electricity, it’s not only sparkies who get injured by electricity in the workplace.
Electricians, while more likely to sustain electrical injuries, are actually outnumbered by those from other trades who are injured by electricity at work.
Labourers, sales assistants, cleaners and even teachers report electricity-related injuries.
Port Hunter Conveyors (PHC), who won a Safe Work Award in 2013, and was a finalist in 2014, works in the mining industry around conveyor systems.
They identified electricity as the third most dangerous hazard in their workplace.
PHC workers use portable electrical equipment and extension leads in coal preparation plants and also underground.
HSEQ Coordinator, Jared Dwyer, said at PHC their main electrical concern is welding around water.
If someone has wet gloves, they can receive a shock.
‘In 2011, for example, we had an incident where the person assisting was wearing wet gloves and received a shock. We generally work in wet conditions so you need equipment to mitigate this, such as wooden pallets and dry, waterproof gloves,’ said Jared.
Jared said PHC also aims for water-tight risk assessments.
‘We have everything tagged and tested on a regular basis. We do an inspection at the start of the month and daily visual inspections to make sure anything damaged in transit or during work is identified.’
‘Even so, we had a near miss where something inspected at the start of the month was found with exposed wires a week later after being damaged in transit. Luckily this was picked up during the daily visual inspection.
‘We haven’t had an incident for the last three years though and we think this is because we keep communicating safety; we regularly update our safe work method statements (SWMS) and carry out toolbox talks and risk assessments.’
Mr Ron Keelty, Director of WorkCover’s Specialist Services Group, said if you work with electricity you should be appropriately qualified and experienced.
‘Seven out of eight people who report electrical injuries aren’t electricians,’ Mr Keelty said.
‘The vast majority of injuries are electric shocks sustained from wiring and lighting, sound systems, and from other electrical objects like computers or cooking equipment,’ said Mr Keelty.
‘Anyone is fair game when it comes to electrical injuries, so it pays to know the golden rules.’
When working with electricity:
- never work live
- identify all electrical sources before you start
- assess the risks
- isolate the supply
- lock the switch
- test before you touch
- reassess if anything changes.