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6 common electrical safety issues - construction sites!

February 2, 2020

There is no denying that construction sites have a lot of safety issues to think about, but often electrical safety can be overlooked, studies have shown there are around 1,000 accidents at work linked to electricity (around 30 of these are fatal). Here we discuss the top 6 most common issues found on construction sites and what can you do to avoid any incidents from taking place. 


Inadequate PPE 


The correct personal protective equipment should be the final line of defence for electrical safety as it provides another barrier between the worker and the live current. For those working with electricity, the correct PPE will include safety glasses, face shields, hard hats, safety shoes, insulating (rubber) gloves with leather protectors, insulating sleeves, and flame-resistant clothing.


All employers, as highlighted in the health and safety work act of 1974, by law must provide all employees with the correct PPE in order for them to do the job safely. The employees must never been in charge of sourcing their own PPE. 


Lack of adequate training


It is often an unspoken problem that many construction sites fail to provide suitable training for employees. Many employees on sites are often zero hours or contractors and companies fail in basic checks to ensure all workers have the correct training and knowledge when working with electricity. 


It is recommended that you seek a third party training provider as they will have the correct knowledge and qualifications to provide this, leaving the worker with certifications they need to do the job correctly. Contact us at info@rockandroadtraining.com if you require any assistance. 


Incorrect testing


It is a often a large danger that many workers will come into contact with a live electrical current whilst working on every day tasks and if an employer fails to provide the correct testing on equipment, they will find themselves in breach of section 2 of the Health ans Safety Work Act 1974, as they have to ensure 'so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees'. 


Employers have to make sure all equipment on site is legally compliant to the Safe use of Work Equipment regulations 1998. As highlighted in part II, regulation 5 (Maintenance) 'every employer shall ensure that work equipment is an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair'. In order to do this, sites need to make sure there is a competent person on site to provide the testing but to also make sure they are provided with the right equipment to be able to carry out the testing. The equipment needed (would obviously include the correct PPE), but also things such as voltage detectors and clamp meters to receptacle testers.


Not taking precautions 


Many electrical safety issues and incidents could actually be avoided. This is true for both human effort and equipment failure. If all employers and employees on site took the necessary precautions on site each day, it helps to minimise the risk and means may events could be avoided.  


From provided testing, making sure people are aware of the location and presence of electrical wires and getting the site inspected regularly by a qualified electrical engineer, you would then be providing all the necessary precautions to create a safe working environment.  


Failure to carry out risk assessments 


If you have a company of five or more employees, legally you have to provide a risk written risk assessment on site, nothing more important than anything electrical related. 


Any risk assessment needs to take place before any work has started, and regular plan and review has to be in place to ensure all aspects of the assessment are still working and valid to the work taking place. When preparing the risk assessment, it is important that all electrical hazards are spotted, and make sure a solid plan has been made to minimise the risk, and all employers or managers have a duty to make sure these are all implements. 

Employees also have a duty of care to make sure they follow the risk assessment, and if they notice anything missing or not working to inform managers instantly, this provides all workers with safety at work and ensures all risks are minimised as far is reasonable practicable. 


Lack of understanding signs


Whilst most sites may think they are being compliant by placing electrical danger signs around sites, many workers may not know what the signs mean, so they can not look out or prepare for the danger. 


From providing training, and a refresher of knowledge for workers, sites can ensure all is being done to make sure all workers are staying safe whilst at work. By providing the training, you can ensure all workers know how to implement a safe system of work, know how to spot a danger and how to report any issues that arise. 




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