Construction zones are dangerous places, full of potential for nasty falls, cuts, and fires. Electrical fires are especially hazardous. As Portland industrial demolition experts, we must be extremely aware of fire safety, as our employees are at risk whenever they take down buildings. In this post we discuss ways to prevent electrical hazards on construction sites. Proper training, awareness, and preventative action can all help prevent electrical fires.
Improvements in occupational health and safety guidelines and regulations have helped generate awareness of the danger of electrical fires. And many improvements have been made to general construction site procedures and operations. But there is still more work to be done.
Whenever high wattage power tools are being used on a job site, electrical fires are especially likely, so special precautions should be taken. Obviously, fire danger is also high when electrical systems are being installed or removed, as during industrial demolition. Finally, portable generators increase the incidence of fire on construction sites.
Here are some general electrical safety guidelines to be aware of:
- Lockout and tagout circuits on machines that must be repaired.
- Protective eyewear and other safety equipment, including gloves, is a must for all workers involved.
- Remove all debris from the worksite on a daily basis to minimize the risk of fire.
- Use guard rails to avoid mishaps while working on elevated surfaces.
Additional electrical fire safety considerations include…
Adequate Training and Supervision
Up-to-date training and supervision is necessary for all employees, especially those working with electricity. Pay close attention to new employees to be sure they are working safely.
The welding process generates sparks and incredibly hot flying particles, including molten metal. Use shields around welding sites, remove combustible materials and debris, and ensure sparks and molten metal cannot make contact with power cords.
Temporary Electrical Service Safety
Temporary electrical service should not be overloaded. Make sure to protect temporary electrical service from wet weather.
Provide the correct type of extinguishers for the work at hand. OSHA lists five major types, from A to E. Type C is the one to use for electrical fires. Be sure to have plenty of type C extinguishers handy on your job site!
OSHA has long recognized the danger of electrical fires as a serious workplace hazard. The standards and directives published by OSHA are designed to reduce the exposure to dangers such as electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions. Contractors and industrial demolition companies that fail to follow OSHA standards can face financial penalties, so electrical safety is important for your bottom line.
OSHA directives mandate that employers instruct employees in the recognition and avoidance of dangerous situations and practices. If you do not have safety training in place, OSHA’s publications make a great foundation for your program. OSHA publishes a variety of material, ranging pocket construction guides, to regulations on construction ground fault protection, to an Outreach Training Program.
No one should have to lose a loved one to a workplace accident. Electrical fires can be deadly. For employees, employee’s families, company reputation, liability, and the bottom line, it just makes sense to practice excellent electrical fire safety.