When one thinks of places to run into electrical hazards, the office isn’t the first place that comes to mind. Injury from falls is certainly #1 on the list of risks. #2 comes from lifting heavy object.
Certainly folks that deal directly with electricity are far more likely to suffer potential injury. 20% of all electrical injuries (shocks & burns) occur with Electricians and apprentices. Meanwhile 12% of all electrical injuries happen to Mechanics. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35% of all electrical injuries occur to the “other” category of worker that includes folks who work in offices.
In fact OSHA published a guide in 2002 to help understand electrical hazards and how to minimize their risks.
Here are some basic guidelines to help eliminate electrical shocks & burns in the office…
- Make sure all devices are shut off before leaving the office at the end of the day.
- It’s best to use devices that are grounded. (They have a 3-prong cord.) Be sure that they are plugged into 3-prong outlets.
- If a device is giving off an unusual smell… like plastic burning… unplug it right away.
- Never work with devices that have damaged cords.
- Be sure that all walkways in the office are free from extension cords.
- Never use staples or nails to try and position electrical cords.
- Never plug devices into outlets that have a loose connection.
- Only use devices that have passed independent screening such as by Underwriters Laboratories.
- Ensure that there’s a 3’ clearance in front of electrical panels, transformers, etc.
- Never connect devices to an electrical outlet through a series of electrical extension cords.
Most of these may seem like common sense but they should be incorporated into worker safety training. Not only will they reduce worker injury risks from shocks, they can also help to eliminate potential electrical fire risks as well. And while you are at it, be sure to talk with your insurance professional for other ideas on how to keep your workers safe as well.