Electrical contractors play a crucial role in the construction industry. However, their profession is also one of the most dangerous. Construction sites are full of electrical hazards that can pose a threat to workers. As an electrical contractor, it’s important to be aware of these risks and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your team. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the most common electrical hazards found on construction sites and provide some tips on how electrician contractors can keep themselves and their teams safe.
What is a Common Electrical Hazard on a Construction Site?
Construction sites are inherently risky environments, and various hazards can pose significant risks to workers and visitors. Some of the most common hazards on construction sites include:
Faulty wiring: Faulty wiring is one of the most common electrical hazards on construction sites. Wiring that is old, damaged, or improperly installed can cause fires, electrocution, and other safety hazards. Electrician contractors should inspect the wiring regularly and replace any damaged or faulty wiring as soon as possible. Additionally, the use of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) can provide added protection to workers by automatically shutting off power in the event of an electrical surge or ground fault.
Overloaded circuits: Overloaded circuits occur when too many electrical devices are connected to a single circuit. This can cause the circuit to overheat and potentially start a fire. Electrical contractors should never overload circuits and instead, use multiple circuits to distribute the electrical load. By adding more circuits, the overall electrical load is reduced, and the risk of an overloaded circuit is eliminated.
Improper Grounding: Grounding is an essential safety measure that protects workers from electrical shock. But when it’s done improperly, it can be hazardous. Electrical contractors must ensure that all electrical equipment is properly grounded to reduce the risk of electrical shock and other electrical hazards. This can be done by using a ground tester to check the grounding system, and if necessary, make the necessary adjustments.
Other The Most Common Construction Site Hazards
FallsFall protection is the number one violation cited by OSHA. In 2019, falls, slips, and trips were the most frequent type of fatal events in the construction industry. They represented 37.9% of all fatalities in that year. Fall protection programs include procedures for working at height. They detail how and when personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) are to be used. Employees should be trained on all facets of a company’s fall protection program and use PFAS when required.
Struck byStruck by accidents occur when a worker is hit by a vehicle, falling object, or flying object. One in four struck by vehicle deaths involves a construction worker, and 75% of these fatalities involve heavy equipment like trucks or cranes. While struck by accidents can’t be completely eliminated, proper personal protective equipment (PPE), protocols, and training can help mitigate the risk. Caught in/between Caught in or between hazards occur when a person becomes caught, squeezed, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects or parts of an object. A safety hazard may come from unguarded moving machinery, excavation, trenches, moving materials, vehicles, or equipment. In 2019, caught in or between incidents caused 8.5% of construction worker deaths. To avoid this safety hazard, only use machinery that is properly guarded, use proper lockout/tag-out procedures, and de-energize equipment before doing maintenance. Don’t go between moving materials, practice trench safety, and stay out of the swing radius of cranes and other equipment.
Scaffolding/laddersThe improper use of scaffolding and ladders can lead to injury or death. Scaffolding may collapse due to structural instability or overloading or planking, or supports giving way. In 2018, 61 fatalities were recorded from scaffolding. Using the wrong type of ladder can also lead to falls and injuries. The CDC says that 43% of fatal falls in the last decade involve ladders. Regularly inspect ladders and scaffolding for potential damage. Use the proper ladder for the construction work being done. Make sure that scaffolding is erected and used correctly.
Airborne substancesAirborne materials, such as asbestos and silica, can lead to long-term illness or breathing problems. Workers may be exposed to these substances when providing demolition services or cutting through materials. In 2021, OSHA cited 2,527 respiratory protection violations. Workers should use proper facemasks and respirators when working with potentially hazardous materials, such as asbestos, silica, and lead. Workers must be medically fitted for respirators and see a doctor once a year for a checkup when using them long-term.
NoiseThe sounds caused by construction equipment can be damaging to unprotected years. Prolonged exposure to these noises can cause hearing damage or loss. According to the CDC and NIOSH, 51% of construction workers have been exposed to hazardous noise, and 52% of workers exposed to noise report not wearing hearing protection. OSHA says that regular eight-hour exposure to noise levels over 85 dB can cause hearing damage over time. Noises that reach 100 dB can cause hearing loss with just one hour of exposure each day. Workers should wear earplugs or noise-canceling headphones when working near equipment.
TrenchesWhenever there are open trenches or excavation on a job site, there is a potential for workers to fall into the trench or be crushed by materials that aren’t properly shored up. According to the CDC and NIOSH, from 2013 to 2017, there were 97 trenching fatalities in the construction industry, an average of 19 per year. Excavations less than 5 feet deep don’t require protective systems as long as the sides are stable. Excavations of more than 5 feet need to employ sloping or benching tactics to the walls.
Material handlingHandling heavy or large materials can cause injuries. Back injuries, along with sprains and strains, can lead to lost time and low construction productivity. Workers should have training on proper lifting techniques, as well as use mechanical assistance when possible. Proper lifting uses a worker’s legs to lift heavy items. Make sure workers are adequately trained on using lifting equipment properly.
VibrationWorkers that use vibrating equipment, like jackhammers, may potentially get hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). This painful disease is caused by repeated exposure to vibrating hand tools. Symptoms can be long-lasting, even after workers stop working. Workers should use appropriate protection when working with vibrating hand tools and reduce the hours of exposure per day. Tools should be well maintained to reduce the amount of vibration. Safety is the number one concern on most construction projects. With many simultaneous hazards present, everyone must be aware of construction safety tips and the risks at all times. Boost site safety and efficiency of your job side by learning about hazards or new tools that can benefit you, such as free general contractor software. By addressing the 10 most common construction site hazards listed above, you’ll go a long way to protecting everyone on the site.
5 Ways to Keep Workers Safe From Electrical Hazards
Keeping workers safe from electrical hazards is crucial, especially in environments where electrical equipment and wiring are prevalent. Here are five effective ways to enhance electrical safety for workers:
- Proper Training and Education:
- Conduct regular safety training sessions for all workers, focusing on identifying and avoiding electrical hazards.
- Educate workers about the proper handling of electrical equipment, the importance of using personal protective equipment (PPE), and the procedures to follow in case of an electrical emergency.
- Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
- Ensure that workers are equipped with the necessary PPE, such as insulated gloves, safety glasses, face shields, and electrical-resistant footwear.
- Regularly inspect PPE for any damage or wear and replace it as needed.
- Regular Inspection and Maintenance of Electrical Equipment:
- Implement a routine inspection program for all electrical tools and equipment. Regularly check for frayed cords, damaged insulation, and faulty wiring.
- Ensure that all electrical equipment is properly grounded and that safety features are functioning correctly.
- Schedule regular maintenance to address any electrical issues before they become hazardous.
- Implementing Lockout/Tagout Procedures:
- Establish lockout/tagout procedures to ensure that machines are properly shut off and cannot be started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or repair work.
- Train workers in these procedures to prevent accidental energization of electrical equipment.
- Maintaining a Safe Work Environment:
- Keep work areas well-organized and free of clutter to reduce the risk of accidents, such as tripping over loose cords.
- Ensure that workspaces have adequate lighting, particularly where electrical work is being performed.
- Use warning signs and labels to clearly mark areas with potential electrical hazards.
- Avoid using electrical equipment in wet conditions and implement measures to protect against water ingress in areas where electrical equipment is used.
By combining training, proper equipment, preventive maintenance, safe work practices, and adherence to safety protocols, the risk of electrical hazards can be significantly reduced, creating a safer work environment for everyone.
In conclusion, effectively managing electrical hazards on construction sites is essential for ensuring the safety and well-being of all workers, as these environments are often rife with potential risks from power tools, wiring, and heavy machinery. By prioritizing safety protocols, regular training, and proper equipment use, we can significantly reduce the incidence of electrical accidents and maintain a secure and productive work site.
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