Electricity is all around us. Employees in a wide range of industries face everyday electrical hazards and it takes only one incident to result in injury or death. Electricity hits at workplaces in a variety of ways — electrocutions, electric shocks, burns, and falls are all dangers that occur wherever electric currents exist. While basic electrical safety training courses are essential for electricians, they’re not the only types of employees whose safety depends on it.
You might remember a safety incident that happened in December 2017, when Amtrak 501 was making its initial journey on a new Seattle-to-Portland route. The lead locomotive and all 12 passenger cars derailed without notice as they approached a bridge over I-5, without warning.
Three people have died and over 100 have been injured.
Preliminary data from the data recorder revealed that, when the incident occurred, the train was traveling at 78 mph (nearly 50 mph above the speed limit). However, rumors emerged over the next month saying the crew didn’t feel completely confident in the basic electrical classes they had been given. A follow-up article from CNN in January states:
“Engineers and conductors had safety concerns, citing rushed and ‘totally inadequate’ training which left them feeling dangerously unprepared for the new route, according to multiple sources, including several directly involved in the training. … Some training runs were performed at night, with as many as six or more crew members stuffed into cars with just three seats, which meant some trainees rode backward, in the dark, the sources said. Engineers felt they did not get enough practice runs at the controls and could not properly see to familiarize themselves with the route.”
In an electrical safety survey, respondents echoed the sentiments stated by these engineers and drivers. Nearly one-third selected “poor/ineffective preparation” when asked to list their top electrical safety concerns–an answer large enough to make it the second-highest security concern. (“Poor/ineffective equipment maintenance” ranked slightly higher, and it’s easy to see the connection between the two.) One-third of respondents also indicated that they had not received NFPA 70E training at all.
The question has been carefully formulated: apart from practical considerations such as money and time, there is nothing to deter plant / electrical professionals from completing basic electrical training courses in their own time, especially if you feel like Amtrak 501’s crew and feel uncertain about whether you have received adequate training to do your job well, and safely.
When it comes to electrical safety, there is no such thing as common sense. Unlike fire, humans do not have an instinctual reaction to avoid electricity sources. Most electricity sources don’t emit any sound, heat or visual signs that they pose a danger. In reality, live wires, high-voltage batteries, and transformers can blend right into the background. Just look around and think about all of the things that either hold or run on electricity- there are hazards in almost every place of work.
If you have live wires or high-voltage devices at your workplace, there should be basic electrical classes for everyone in its vicinity. It is important to consider corporate training for professions beyond those with the word “electric” in their titles, in order to maintain a high standard for electrical safety at work.
Some workers requiring electrical training include:
If you’re uncertain about whether an employee needs electrical safety training or not, being safe is better than being sorry. You never know when they will experience an electricity-related activity at work, and the information they obtain from basic electrical training courses may avoid a costly accident.
When dealing with electricity, a good rule of thumb is to treat any potentially dangerous substance with caution. Just as one would presume that an electric fence is charged before jumping over it, staff would believe that the wires they pass flow through them to lethal levels of electricity. Even when a wire appears to be completely isolated, it can never be assumed that it’s safe to handle.
Other best practices to be covered by training could also be:
Taking these guidelines on electrical safety at the workplace will help the employees better understand and tackle the threats that affect them. By introducing a comprehensive electrical training course at your company, you’ll help your employees build healthy habits that they can take with them for the rest of their careers.
Are you ready to equip your employees with the knowledge and skills to work safely at your organization?