Everyday Electrical Safety
By: Dave Varga | Jun 02, 2021
Electrical contractors come in a wide variety of sizes. Top electrical contractors employ thousands of people and gross hundreds of millions of dollars. Electrical safety is the number one priority, whether you are a large electrical contractor or a six-man shop. Or, is it? Does a two-million-dollar contractor have the same budget and resources as say, a twenty-million-dollar contractor? There are vast differences in electrical safety procedures based on company sizes. Remember, safety starts with you! Whether your employer is big or small, you need to be proactive about safety. Here are some tips on how to stay safe.
When you are hired at a company you should be presented with a company safety manual to read and sign. Sometimes, this manual is lengthy and you may be expected to sign the safety manual at the time of hiring. Many people are anxious to get to work and will quickly skim through the pages and sign it. The employer will take the signature page and file it in your personnel file. Do not be that person. Ask the employer for additional time to review the manual. There is important safety information in the manual, and if violated, it could cost you not only your job but possible benefits you may be entitled to after an injury. The employer’s safety manual must be followed and is the first step in electrical safety. If you are starting with a small company, they may not have a company safety manual. In that case, it’s going to be up to you to be on the alert for various safety issues. Always contact a supervisor when you are unsure about an electrical safety situation.
Once all the office paperwork is taken care of, the next step is to find out what job site you might be going to. Many companies issue company-provided personal protective equipment (PPE) at the time of hiring. This PPE usually includes a highly visible safety vest or a brightly colored company t-shirt, a pair of gloves, a pair of safety glasses, hearing protection, and a hard hat. Some smaller companies will request that you supply your own PPE. In that case, you must supply the items as you would with your own personal hand tools.
When you arrive at the job site there are certain items that need to be taken care of immediately. The first thing you should do is make a note of the actual job site address. The address and even the GPS coordinates of the address can be stored in your phone and given to your significant other. Make sure you obtain the electrical foreman’s phone number and maybe even the general contractor’s site representative’s phone number as a backup. Once you are working on the job site you will become familiar with other company site safety rules and even general contractor site safety rules. Again, some smaller companies may not have site safety rules and the General Contractor may be focused on the completion deadline. In any case, there are some other electrical standards or Tool Buddy Procedures that need to be followed.
Your Tool Buddy is your work partner. It could be the Journeyman/helper duo, or just a couple of people working together. You must always look out for your working partner and yourself. Regardless of your experience level, be alert for safety-related issues. If you see someone that needs new PPE, speak up about it. If you see an unsafe situation on the job site, let a supervisor know. If you see concrete dust in the area, tell someone about it and seek the proper remedy. Don’t stand by in silence and don’t be afraid to ask for the proper PPE. Be proactive about safety and familiarize yourself with OSHA standards and NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Take a first aid class and get CPR certified. Make sure you have your Tool Buddy’s back and make sure that person has your back, too. Large job site, small job site, large electrical contractor, or small electrical contractor, it’s everyone’s job to look out for one another. Safety begins and ends with you.
If no one will listen to you, file a complaint online, download the form, and mail or fax it to the nearest OSHA office, or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Most complaints sent in online are resolved informally over the phone with your employer.