Electrical Safety Workplace practices are essential for protecting the health and safety of electrical workers. Not only is creating a safe environment in the workplace crucial to electical worker health and safety, it is also an excellent way to protect employers, who are legally liable for their electrical workers. Allowing untrained workers access to potential life-threatening electrical situations is both dangerous and costly, especially if the employer is found negligent.
In the United Staes, Workplace Electrical Safety is governed by OSHA. In Canada, the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) is the standard for electrical safety workplace practices involving workers who work near or on electrical appliances and equipment. A major component of the code is the CSA Z462, which establishes worker safeguards from arc flash and arc blast injuries involving installations, maintenance and operation. The CSA standards all fall under the Occupational Health & Safety requirements, as laid out by the government of Canada.
A major component of CSA Z462 is establishing workers who are considered “qualified” to perform electrical work, and those who are “unqualified” and much follow greater restrictions around electricity.
Some of the key points for electrical safety workplace practices are:
In the United States, it is the National Fire Protection Association NFPA 70e and the National Electrical Code (NEC).
Although CSA Z462 is a relative newcomer, portions of NFPA 70E date back to 1979. As such, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created new regulations and electrical safety workplace practices in 1990 — practices and regulations based largely on NFPA 70E.
But by definition, NFPA 70e is the national standard for the United States, as CSA Z462 is for Canada.
Concurrently, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provide their own set of standards to complement NFPA 70E.
Although much of the OSHA regulations are written in general terms, it is incumbent on the employer to spell out the details of how its employees should follow the electrical safety workplace regulations (for example, what level of arc flash PPE should be worn). Essentially, the employer is expected to utilize the best method to achieve full compliance with OSHA regulations. The NFPA 70E (and in Canada, CSA Z462) is the bible – or “how to” – on how to comply with the standard.
As to how much of the regulations are expected to be followed depends on which state or province you work in. Each is different, and it is important to know what those electrical safety workplace rules are. The proper training of employees, proper field labeling of hazardous equipment, and a responsibility to keep the workplace free of a hazard that might expose the worker to injury or death are all the responsibility of the employer.
In the case of utilities, extensive training is involved to ensure that workers routine exposed to medium and high voltage systems and overhead and underground power lines are aware of potential arc flash dangers, shock and improper grounding techniques.