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Is Your Workplace Compliant With Electrical Safety?

Posted in Work Injury on May 2, 2024

May is National Electrical Safety Month, but is your Arizona workplace compliant with electrical safety standards? The Phoenix work injury lawyers remind business owners that remaining compliant with electrical standards not only means ensuring initial compliance in the workplace but also monitoring technological advancements and any necessary changes along the way.

What Does it Mean to Be a Compliant Workplace With Electrical Safety?

A workplace is considered compliant when it aligns with federal, state, and local electrical safety standards, ensuring the safety and health of employees. Some key factors to consider include:

  1. Training and Awareness. Employees should be regularly trained to identify and handle potential electrical hazards. They must know where circuit breakers, power shutoffs, and emergency equipment are located.
  2. Equipment Maintenance. Electrical equipment and installations should be inspected and maintained regularly to prevent malfunctions. Ensure all tools are certified and adequately insulated.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Proper PPE like rubber gloves, helmets, and face shields should be available and used where necessary.
  4. Signage and Communication. Clear warning signs must mark high-voltage areas and other electrical hazards. Employees should also be informed of emergency response procedures.
  5. Compliance with Standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires  compliance with the National Electrical Code (NEC) and the NFPA 70E Standard. Ensure you follow their latest guidelines for electrical safety in the workplace.

Consequences of a Non-Compliant Workplace

Failure to comply with electrical safety standards (no matter who is non-compliant) can have serious repercussions. Beyond the legal consequences, which include fines and lawsuits, non-compliant workplaces can result in various electrical injuries, such as:

  1. Electrical Shock. Contact with live electrical components can cause severe burns, muscle contractions, and even cardiac arrest. Shocks often occur due to exposed wires, faulty equipment, or improper grounding.
  2. Electrocution. When high-voltage current flows through the body, it can lead to fatal injuries. Workers are particularly vulnerable around energized equipment and unmarked high-voltage areas.
  3. Burns. Electrical burns occur when electrical arcs or short circuits produce intense heat, leading to tissue damage. These burns often result from arc flashes or when workers touch live wires.
  4. Falls. Electrical shock or sudden power failure can cause employees to lose balance and fall from heights or trip over equipment. This can lead to injuries like fractures or concussions.
  5. Muscle Injuries. Sudden muscle contractions from electrical currents can cause strains or tears. This can result in long-term pain and restricted mobility.
  6. Respiratory Issues. Exposure to smoke and toxic fumes from electrical fires can result in breathing difficulties or lung damage, affecting overall health.

What if Your Workplace is Hazardous?

If your workplace poses electrical hazards, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Report the Hazard. Report the issue to your supervisor or safety manager. They must investigate and resolve the problem promptly. If ignored, escalate the matter to higher management or HR.
  2. File an OSHA Complaint. The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) handles workplace safety complaints. Workers have the right to report hazardous conditions anonymously.
  3. Seek Legal Assistance. Consult an attorney if your employer does not address the hazard or retaliates against you. You have the right to a safe workplace and legal protection for reporting safety issues.
  4. Document the Issues. Maintain records of unsafe conditions, correspondence, and any actions taken. Documentation can be valuable if you file a complaint or a lawsuit.