>> Jun 2, 2014
Every electrician has a story about making a mistake while working with electricity. Some stories are funny while others serve as a solemn warning of the deadly consequences of failing to treat electricity with the respect and caution it deserves. The following list is designed to summarize important precautions you should take when working with electricity.
1. Treat all devices with caution and as if they are connected to an energy source until you personally disconnect them. And even then, exercise caution while you double check!
2. Always disconnect the power source before working on any electrical device. Never try to service a live circuit or any device that is still connected to a power source. If you’re working with exposed wires, use an electrical tester to determine if there is any electricity flowing through them before beginning work.
3. Never leave energized equipment unattended. If you are going to leave the area, unplug the equipment or disconnect the circuit, and never ever touch, pick up or work on equipment that someone else has left unattended.
4. Do not use or work on electrical equipment if there is any kind of liquid present. This includes the obvious, such as standing water and spilled chemicals,and the not so obvious, such as perspiration, condensation and damp soil.
5. Always wear the proper protective gear when you work with electricity. This means choosing shoes that have a thick rubber sole, coveralls that do not have any exposed metal pieces on them, nonconductive gloves and goggles. It might seem like overkill, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
6. Do not attempt electrical jobs that you have not been trained to do. Rewiring a building’s fire or alarm system is a job that requires a commercial electrician. It is not a job that can be done by a newly certified electrician!
7. Always put a cap on the wire ends when you are working on a circuit board or panel. If you don’t, you could end up short-circuiting the live wire or worse, shocking yourself if you accidentally touch them.
8. Always ensure that your equipment is in safe working condition. Never use tools that are in poor or unsafe condition, and never use tools that were not designed for the task. Remove any tools that have frayed cords or show signs of overheating. Never attempt to repair damaged equipment unless you are certified to do so.
9. Utilize a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI or GFI) as a secondary means of preventing electrical injury or fire, but remember that while it can reduce the chance of an electrical injury, it cannot prevent dangerous electrical shocks nor can it prevent ignition in an explosive atmosphere.
10.Ensure that you are working in safe conditions and that you have the proper equipment to treat injuries and accidents. Every job site should have a readily accessible first aid kit and every crewmember should be certified in CPR and first aid training.
When pressure is on to complete a job quickly, following these safety precautions can often feel like a hassle, but not following them can result in mistakes that have the potential to be dangerous or, in the worst case, deadly. Showing a healthy level of respect for the power of electricity and exercising caution when working with it is a smart and safe way to ensure that you will be ready for the next job that comes your way!
Candice Hubbard has over twenty years of experience as a Certified Master Commercial Electrician. She specializes in commercial security systems and fire alarms, and is a member of USW Local 43 in New York City.