Electricity is one of the essential items in the modern world. Since the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, the world’s dependence on electricity has increased tremendously. It has enabled employees to increase their productivity and increase the output of companies. Some workers work with power directly. Examples include electronic technicians, engineers, electricity line workers, and electricians. Others work with electricity indirectly. They include salesmen and office workers. Use of power at the workplace is so common that people do not give much thought its importance. More critically, people overlook the hazards posed by electricity and fail to handle it with care.
Workers need to gain awareness of electrical hazards in the workplace. Many organizations have long recognized electricity as a danger in the workplace. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 278 employees died from electrocution at work in 1999. It accounted for 5 percent of all on-the-job deaths that year. The tragic thing about such statistics is that people and organizations can avoid them.
Typical electrical hazards at the workplace include burns, fires, electrocution, and explosions. Electrocution incidents are often fatal and organizations lose productive employees. Non-fatal shocks result in severe and permanent burns to the internal tissues, skin and heart damage depending on the length and intensity of the shock. Electric shocks from faulty electrical equipment in the workplace may also cause related injuries. These include falls from scaffolding, ladders, and other working surfaces. Other harms include nausea, unconsciousness, collapse, palpitations and muscle spasms.
Even though electric shocks come from dynamic electricity, it is critical for organizations to identify the risks posed by static electricity in the workplace. Formation of static electricity takes place when two surfaces rubbing together create electric charges. A static electric shock is painful but does not kill. It becomes hazardous when the flash point occurs near combustible or flammable gases and liquids. In such a situation, static electricity may cause fires and explosions.
A hostile operating environment also acts as a hazard. A hostile workplace is a work environment that exposes electrical equipment to a high probability of damage or reduced lifespan. It has conditions that expose electrical equipment to mechanical damage, heat, corrosion, dust, corrosive chemicals and vibration. Examples of workplaces that qualify as work environments include commercial kitchens, outdoors, and manufacturing environments.
In conclusion, electricity poses the greatest risk to employees in the workplace. For this reason, organizations should implement some control measures to reduce electrical risks. These include:
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