This blog was inspired by OSHA’s Focus Four campaign.
So we’ve covered falls, caught-in or between, struck-by hazards, and now the final hazard in OSHA’s Focus Four campaign is electrocution, which is a major hazard within the construction industry. In 2005 it was the leading cause of death in construction and accounted for 9% of worker deaths. The most affected occupations were electricians, construction laborers, supervisors/managers, and electrical power installers/repairers. OSHA defines electrocution as the result of “when a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy”. These hazards can expose workers to burns, electrocution, shocks, arc flash/blast, fire, and explosions (the acronym for these is coincidentally BE SAFE). The major types of electrocution hazards in construction are contact with overhead power lines, contact with energized sources, and improper use of extension and flexible cords.
There are ways for workers to protect themselves on-site by maintaining a safe distance from overhead power lines, using ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), inspecting portable tools and extension cords, using power tools and equipment as designed, and following lockout/tag out procedures. For example, OSHA recommends the following minimum clearance distances when it comes to power lines:
According to OSHA, employers are required to:
- Ensure overhead power line safety
- Isolate electrical parts
- Supply Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)
- Ensure proper grounding
- Ensure power tools are maintained in a safe condition
- Ensure proper guarding
- Provide training
- Enforce a LOTO safety-related work practices
- Ensure Proper Use of Flexible Cords
In regards to training, OSHA provides resources to instructors and students to learn how to prevent caught-in or between hazards and institute proper safety measures on site:
- Electrocution Hazard Instructor Guide
- Activity Option A and B
- Eight Fatal Facts Accident Summary Report
- Other Handouts
For more information and training resources, go here.