Monday, May 17, 2010

May is National Electrical Safety Month

This is a good time review electrical safety practices.  Increasing electrical safety awareness, following electrical safety guidelines, and using tools and technology designed to address electrical hazards are all components of a safety program.

The most recent data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that on average, there are over 400 electrocutions in the United States each year.  Here are some electrifying statistics:
  • Electrocutions from wiring hazards, including damaged or exposed wiring and household wiring together totaled approximately 20 percent.
  • Ladders contacting power lines caused 9 percent of electrocutions.
  • Another 5 percent of deaths were due to victims coming in contect with high voltage power lines.
  • Power tools were responsible for another 9 percent of deaths.
  • Annually, electrical hazards are listed as the cause of approximately 4,000 injuries.
  • The National Safety Council indicates that electrical hazards cause nearly one workplace fatality every day.
  • Electrocutions do not tell the entire story. Electricity is the cause of over 140,000 fires each year,
    resulting in 400 deaths, 4,000 injuries and $1.6 billion in property damage.  Total economic losses due to electrical hazards are estimated to exceed $4 billion annually.
Tips to keep you alive and kickin':
  • Inspect tools and portable equipment before using them to make sure that cable strain reliefs are properly secured, ground pins are not accidentally or intentionally removed, and cable insulation is not nicked or frayed.
  • Replace damaged electrical equipment or have it repaired at an authorized repair center.
  • Observe and report any junction box covers or light fixture covers that you see missing or loose.  Have the maintenecne department secure covers so that wiring and lamps are protected.
  • Review Electrical panelboards to see that they have complete directory listings and that the power source disconnect locations are clearly identified.
  • Make sure power strips, cords, and surge suppressors are designed to handle the loads for their intended use.
  • Avoid overloading circuits by plugging too many items into the same outlet.
  • Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection on portable tools to protect against electric shock.
  • ALWAYS unplug or disconnect the power to equipment be for servicing it (this includeds changing light-bulbs, too!)
  • Workers using ladders, scaffolds, manlifts, boom-arm lifts, working in or near broadcast trucks with telescoping masts, and those carrying aluminum siding, poles, fencing and even lumber, should be aware of and stay clear of power lines.
Electrical Safety Foundation International -,
National Safety Council -
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission -
National Electric Code (NFPA 70 & 70E) -

ZAP Artwork courtesy of Robert Crumb (

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