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    Electrical Safety

    Electricity is one of the most common causes of fire in homes and workplaces. Explosions have
    also resulted from electrical sources. OSHA’s electrical standard is designed to protect
    employees exposed to dangers such as electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions.
    OSHA’s General Industry electrical standards contained in 29 CFR 1910 Subpart S.

    On average, a worker is electrocuted on the job every day. There are four main types of
    electrical injuries; electrocution, electrical shock, burns, and falls. Electrical shock is produced
    when a current passes through the body. Severity of the shock depends on the path of the
    current and the amount of current flowing through the body, and the length of time the body is
    in the circuit.

    The difference between electrocution and electric shock is that electrocution ends with death.
    Electrocution causes death or severe injury when a high voltage electric current passes through
    the body. An electrical shock is when an electric current travels through the body, causing
    muscles to involuntarily seize. An electrical shock can occur even if there is no direct contact
    with the source of electricity, as it can travel through the air and come in contact with hair and
    skin. The human body has a low resistance to electricity causing it to act as a good conductor.
    The severity of damage from electric shock can range from skin burns, twitching of muscles,
    heart attack, to death, depending on the voltage of current that is present during the shock. A
    current can travel through the skin’s surface, then through the muscles, and into the body’s
    organs. Other injuries can include seizures, breathing problems, and broken bones.

    Electrical accidents happen with a combination of unsafe equipment and/or installation,
    workplaces made unsafe by the environment, and unsafe work practices. Remember, low
    voltage does not mean low hazard. To avoid hazards:

    o Look for overhead power lines and buried power line indicators. Post warning signs.

    o Contact utilities for buried power line locations.

    o Stay at least ten feet away from overhead power lines.

    o Unless you know otherwise, assume that overhead lines are energized (live).

    o De-energize and ground lines when working near them. Other protective measures
    include guarding or insulating the lines.

    o Use non-conductive wood or fiberglass ladders when working near power lines.

    o Use extra caution when working with electricity when water is present in the
    environment or on the skin. Pure water is a poor conductor, but small amounts of
    impurities, such as salt and acid (both found in perspiration), make it a ready conductor.

    Definitions of common electrical verbiage:

    Current = the movement of electrical charge
    Resistance = opposition to current flow
    Voltage = a measure of electrical force
    Conductors = substances, such as metals, which have little resistance to electricity
    Insulators = substances, such as wood, rubber, and glass, which have high resistance to
    Grounding = a conductive connection to the earth which acts as a protective measure


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