Safety remains at the top of the list when it comes to facility design and maintenance. A company’s facilities should be completely safe from any danger or hazard that could pose a risk to its employees. It is the responsibility of the business to ensure employees are safe while being near or working with electrical equipment.
In this article, we will tackle a very important potential hazard that is present in every facility – electricity.
We reveal ten crucial steps in maintaining correct electrical safety in the workplace. Understanding and following each of these steps will help your facility meet the necessary health and safety standards, eliminate the chance of risk and reap the benefits of a safe and secure workplace.
1. “Safe Work Australia” Electrical Requirements
The first step would be to follow key guidelines from regulating bodies that deal with hazards and safety issues. One such national organisation is Safe Work Australia. The organisation’s main focus is to identify proven safety measures established globally and support local companies in meeting this required standard for electrical services.
Through their guidelines and expertise, they help improve the safety of your workplace. These groups also carry the authority to issue penalties and fines for any facilities found not to be adhering to the basic requirements. Businesses, therefore, must first become compliant with these safety standards before starting any electrical safety program.
2. Identifying Electrical Hazards
After reading and understanding the aforementioned guidelines and requirements for your electrical services, the next step is to identify potential issues with regards to safety in your facility and any measures for improvement. To do this, you need to complete the Gemba walk, which involves your team inspecting your facility to identify any possible hazards, in this case, potential electrical risks.
But don’t worry, our accredited professionals can help you with this process. Mathiou Services is a national building, construction and maintenance business with extensive electrical experience, one of the best commercial electrical contractors in Brisbane, and beyond.
Contact us to find out how we can help you.
We will help your team complete the following steps…
- Survey and record water points near electrical sources that may cause an electrical hazard. A recommendation for precautionary measures and training may be completed at this point
- Inspect outlets close to conductors that could present a hazard
- Inspect and search for damaged wires and overloaded circuits
- Advise on actions needed to meet minimum health and safety requirements
3. Implementing Industry Best Practices
Best practices are vital when it comes to meeting health and safety standards. With the help of Mathiou Services, you can learn from professionals in the industry by identifying electrical safety best practices and making sure these are regulated and maintained going forward.
Depending on your working environment, best practices could include using safety signs to warn workers of potential hazards, offering personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hard hats or gloves, or safety equipment necessary in certain areas where maintenance work is taking place.
4. Completing an Audit
A full audit of your facility’s electrical systems should be completed periodically. This is separate from the Gemba walks mentioned earlier, but is equally important. A full audit of any electrical system means you can quickly identify potential hazards and maintain a strict standard of safety. A standard audit for most facilities is normally performed once a year to make sure electrical systems are operating safely.
The best way to perform an audit is to book accredited professionals who have the testing equipment, training and expertise to thoroughly test all wiring, cables, and other electrical components of your workplace. Recommendations can then be made to improve any aspects of the building’s system.
Mathiou Services works nationwide and our team is highly experienced in completing extensive electrical services audits and any required maintenance. Contact us to find out how we can help you with your audit.
5. Keeping Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Available
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an important part of any facility. Most buildings carry different types of equipment to help protect workers. Hard hats, respiratory masks, eye protection and gloves are just some of the more common PPEs present in most work facilities.
Electrical systems, on the other hand, include flame-resistant (FR) materials, hard hats, and safety goggles for staff. Make sure you include PPEs in your regular audit and keep them accessible to ensure staff are safe, protected and any inspections are passed.
Depending on the type of facility you work in, there may be special requirements for PPE equipment. Mathiou Services can advise and help supply everything you need to ensure staff work safely and that you meet the Safe Work Australia electrical requirements.
Contact us to find out which PPEs you require.
6. Electrical Safety Programs
Any electrical safety program needs to be practiced and put into effect by office staff. For any employees who may require it, a facility manager for example, a basic electrician course would help gain a foundation level understanding of working correctly with the building’s electrical system and identifying potential risks as they arise.
Of course, if a more serious safety concern arises around your electrical services, a fully qualified and accredited electrician or inspector would be required. Our nationwide team at Mathiou Services are always on hand to support our local Australian business customers.
7. Visuals to Communicate
Visual aids play a key role in keeping facilities safe and staff out of harm’s way from electrical hazards. These visual tools can easily include safety tape, labelled cables, signs, and much more.
Signs and visual aids alert staff to any potential hazards in the area. Labels and tags can also be placed on electrical equipment so that people will know the voltage and other important information. Signs are also important to alert on the possible presence of arc flash hazards, caused when an electric current flows through an air gap between conductors.
Specific areas in any facility that pose a safety risk must have signs in place near the entrance and exit, also advising on what personal protective equipment should be used before entering the area.
Remember, failure to comply with these guidelines is not only a breach of necessary health and safety, but could mean legal liability, so make sure your facility follows correct electrical safety guidelines.
8. Electrical Training for Employees
Training all office employees on electrical safety is very important and should be made mandatory during work probation periods. Therefore, it is advised that you adapt a segment on electrical training into work inductions, so that new-hires are up to date on the latest requirements. An annual refresher course or general update on safety guidelines is also recommended for longtime employees within your company.
There are many good training programs available, and we are happy to advise on the best one for your organisation.
9. Safety Around Arc Flash
It is absolutely crucial that every facility with electrical systems trains relevant staff on the common and very real dangers of arc flash. The training must be comprehensive enough to cover both high-voltage arc and low-voltage flash incidents to reduce risk in the workplace, and potentially save lives.
An arc flash occurs when an electric current leaves the cable or wire it is traveling in and travels through the air to another cable or to the ground. Surprisingly common, in the US alone there are reports of over 30,000 incidents a year, resulting in over 400 fatalities.
To mitigate the risk of arc flash and understanding required protective equipment around any electrical services, staff who come into close contact with electrics, in particular, should be educated on these hazards.
10. Kaizen: Improving Continuously
A thought to end with – the Japanese business philosophy known as Kaizen, the art of continuous improvement in working practices and personal efficiency, is very relevant here. This philosophy could symbolise continuous improvement in your workplace’s electrical safety program.
As buildings are changed or restored, offices also rely on both old electrical systems, and in some cases have brand new wiring installed. Health and safety guidelines ensuring staff and customer safety are also routinely updated, so it’s crucial to keep up with the latest laws and recommendations.
How Mathiou Services Can Help
As a highly experienced building, construction and maintenance company with offices right across Australia, we have national reach with a local level of care and attention for our customers. Working as a family-owned business, we have accredited professional technicians who are customer-friendly, efficient and timely in their services.
Whether you want to discuss emergency electrical services, commercial electrical services, or any services related to your facilities’ electrical needs, Mathiou Services have you covered.
Take a look at our wide range of building and construction services here or get in touch for a consultation.