Back in 2018, GAP launched it’s Healthy and Safety initiative, ‘Think Safe’. This was created to engage the company’s employees with health and safety culture in the workplace.
Following this in 2019, GAP launched its Interactive Toolbox Talks (ITBTs). A fun and eye-catching way of engaging employees with health and safety practices and regulations. Free to access online, the platform is made up of 15 modules that provide a wealth of information on a number of different health and safety topics. Working With Electricity is covered as part of these modules.
The purpose of the Electricity Toolbox Talk is to provide you with information on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. It is also used to provide information on the hazards, controls and measures which should be taken when working with electricity.
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 apply to almost all places of work and to all situations which involve electricity. They aim to impose duties to limit the risks involved in using electricity at work.
Some examples of electrical equipment which could be used at work on construction sites include:
- Orbital Sander
- Bench Saw
- Angle Grinder
- High Frequency Poker
- Demolition Hammer
- Electric Breaker
- Diamond Core Drill
- Reciprocating Saw.Key provisions of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 include the following:
- All systems shall be of such construction so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practical, any risk of injury
- Workers should be provided with appropriate training, information and supervision.
When working with electricity, there are a number of hazards which may arise that workers should be aware of. The most common would be electric shock. The severity of the shock will depend on the level of the electric current and the duration of contact. The higher the current and the longer the contact, the worse the shock will be.
Some things to be aware of to avoid the risk of electric shock when working on site are:
- Avoid standing on wet or damp surfaces when using electrical equipment
- Check plans before digging or drilling – use a cable locating device
- Assume all cables are live, unless you have been informed by a competent person that they are dead
- Never use power tools if they are damaged
- Always treat overhead lines as live
- Do not use damaged cables and plugs.
An assessment must be done of any electric hazards which have been identified. This should include who could be harmed, how the level of risk has been established and the precautions which have been taken to control that risk. The assessment should consider what type of electrical equipment is being used, how it is being used and the environment in which it is being done so.
When working with electricity there is a correct way to use portable electrical tools. This should be followed at all times. We have outlined a few steps which you should take each time you are working with these tools.
- Only use equipment that you have been trained or instructed to use
- Before use, check the tool is an approved type and is suitable for the work which is being carried out. If you are in doubt, ask a supervisor
- Prior to using the tool, check the condition of the tool for any damage
- Check electrical cables and plugs for damage prior to use
- Check the electrical tool has been tested by a competent person
- When a fuse blows, or circuit breaker trips, always contact someone authorised to check the fault
- Switch off or disconnect power supply before cleaning or making adjustments
- Extension cables should be routed so as not to cause tripping hazards.
To prevent dangers, you should make sure that electrical equipment and installations are maintained properly and regularly. Visual checks should be inspected on electrical equipment. It should be checked, repaired or replaced immediately if any of the following are true:
- The plug or connector is damaged
- The cable has been repaired with tape, is not secure, or internal wires are visible
- Signs of overheating are present, including burn marks or stains.
All repairs should only be carried out by a competent person who has the skills and expertise to conduct the work in a safe manner.
Electricity can kill or severely injure people. Precautions should be taken when working with, or near electricity or equipment, which can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
Always, remember Think Safe.