Electricity is needed and used in the majority of jobs involved in a construction project. With inadequate or malpractices in the application of electrical construction safety measures, serious workplace hazard can be inevitable.
It goes without saying that the workers and employees in a construction site are facing the risks of fires, electrocution, shocks, explosions, and other forms of electrical accidents on a much bigger scale.
What to Consider Before Working at a Construction Site
There are three critical things that an employee or worker on a construction site should consider before beginning any work.
- Carry out risk assessments.
The primary goal of risk assessments is to determine all potential electrical dangers and ensure that appropriate control measures are in place to prevent these hazards from causing damage to properties or harm to the workers.
- Obtain current electrical services maps.
Construction site operators must acquire the latest maps detailing where possible cables, wires, or electrical tools and equipment are located within the construction site area. This will serve as a valuable guide for the workers so they can identify potential hazards ahead before they begin their work.
- Know the safe systems of work.
Workers at the construction site must be competent and fully-trained to carry their tasks safely and efficiently. A safe system of work refers to a formal procedure resulting from a systematized examination of a task to spot all the hazards involved. It specifies safe methods and necessary information to ensure that risks are minimized and electrical hazards are eliminated.
Electrical Construction Safety Hazards
Many accidents, deaths, and injuries happen because of workers neglecting the dangers of electricity at the job site. Everyone at the construction site must be aware of the electrical hazards at the workplace. Some of the common electrical hazards present in construction sites are as follows:
- Overhead Power Lines
Power lines often carry a high voltage of electricity which can be extremely dangerous for the workers in the area.
- Exposed Electrical Parts, Faulty Wiring, and Damaged Cords
Exposed wires can cause electrical shocks or power arcing which can cause an explosion or ignite an electrical fire at the workplace.
- Overloaded Outlets and Circuits
Plugging too many devices on a single outlet or a circuit can result in a short in the circuit or overheating which can lead to an electrical fire.
- Mishandling of Tools and Equipment
Accidents often take place in the workplace due to misuse of equipment or mishandling of the tools used at the job site.
The Role of Construction Site Owners
Construction site owners play a crucial role in ensuring a safe working environment for the employees. It is their duty to provide workplace safety awareness and training to all the construction workers. The owners must see to it that the workers are qualified and trained on how to handle electrical equipment safely. Aside from this, they should also ensure that workers are educated regarding the consequences of electrical malpractices and mishandling including electrocutions, electrical shocks, and electrical fires.
Ideally, before a construction project commences, the responsible company should contact a qualified electrician to conduct an inspection and see to it that there are no electrical issues present at the construction site. Construction owners should also carry out preventative electrical maintenance to ensure electrical safety at the site.
Electrical Safety Precautions for Construction Workers
Electrical safety at the construction site is not just the owner’s duty, and instead it is everybody’s responsibility. Everyone should do their part and employees must take responsibility for their own safety. Below are safety precautions every construction worker must practice while on duty:
- Always exercise extreme caution when working with any electrical equipment.
- By all means, prevent water from coming into contact with electrical equipment and lines. Never operate electrical equipment or machine with wet hands or near wet surfaces.
- Construction workers and employees should take the time to familiarize the construction site and identify potential electrical safety hazards.
- It’s important to turn off power from the main source before performing any electrical works.
- Where applicable, it’s a good practice to de-energize electrical equipment and never leave any electrical tools and equipment on unattended.
- Wear appropriate protective gear and clothing such as insulated rubber gloves and insulated rubber boots when working with electricity
- Use GFCIs or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter in all wirings and outlets in the construction site or workplace especially those near a source of water for enhanced protection.
- Keep the work area clean and organized as possible. Remove any obstacles along the walkways or pathways and avoid stringing along electrical cables and lines on the floors as they can be potential tripping hazards.
- Be sure to read the instructional or safety manuals that come with an electrical appliance or tool thoroughly before operating them.
- Pay attention to any warning signs you see at the construction site, they are meant for your safety and protection and shouldn’t be ignored.
When everyone at the construction site takes part in promoting electrical safety and in following the best practices when handling electricity electrical accidents and injuries can be prevented and altogether avoided.