- Electrical safety is most important. Practicing proper electrical safety will greatly reduce the chance of electrocution or fires. No one wants to be the one responsible for a fire, serious injury, or death because of improper electrical work or safety.
- Electrical work should only be done by a qualified person. If a person wants to do electrical work, they should get hands-on training from an accredited school. Check your local school district, junior college, or private trade school.
- The average home circuit is rated for 15 or 20 amps. About 50 milliamps (.05 amps) is all it takes to cause a heart to stop. An electrical shock will happen when a person touches anything hot (wire, device, or enclosure) and any other part of the body that is grounded in any way.
Electrical Safety Tips
- Read and understand the instructions when installing or replacing any electrical device.
- A neutral conductor can carry voltage when opened on a live circuit.
- Ladders. Don’t stand on the top two steps, and don’t reach out too far to cause an imbalance. Make sure the ladder is stable even as you climb it. Climb up and down slowly. Do not reach out while on a ladder, as it may tip over. Use only fiberglass ladders for electrical work even if power is turned off. Never use aluminum ladders for electrical work. Keep ladders away from power lines.
- Circuit Testers. Make sure the batteries are good in your testers. Check your tester on a known live circuit to make sure it works properly before every use. A tester with a bad battery might show that power is off to a circuit when it is really on.
- Look for damage to electrical cords. Replace them if they are damaged. Electrical cords can be a trip hazard. Make sure they do not cross foot traffic. Do not unplug a cord by yanking it. Pull it straight out by the plug or as close to the plug as possible.
- If the ground pin terminal is missing or broken on an electrical cord, the cord or plug needs to be replaced. If the ground pin has been broken off, the electrical load will still work, however there is no longer protection from a possible short or fault. With the ground pin missing, the plug could also be connected backwards with the line and neutral reversed causing possible damage to the electrical load.
- Keep jewelry (bracelet or necklace) away from a receptacle while plugging or unplugging a load. See photo below to see what happened to the plug when a student unplugged a microscope. Her bracelet touched the line and neutral pin and created a short circuit and arc flash. See burn mark below from bracelet contacting the line and neutral pins.
- Whenever a person works on anything electrical, they must turn off power and make sure it stays off. A person doesn’t want to turn off power to work on something, and have someone else turn it back on. Electricians are supposed to use a lockout/tagout system when working on a circuit. Lockout/tagout means the circuit breaker is locked in the “off” position along with a tag that indicates who has locked the circuit.
Light Fixture Wattage Rating
Light fixtures usually specify the maximum wattage allowed. Never exceed the wattage rating of a light fixture.
For more information go to www.osha.gov and search for “electrical safety”.