Tips to Prevent Electrical Fires on the Jobsite

There is no end to the number of dangers that workers have to worry about on a jobsite. Equipment malfunctions, corrosion, uneven terrain, and a lack of personal protection equipment are among the most prominent, but few dangers are more deadly than electrical problems. Electrical fires are one of the leading causes of fires and explosions on jobsites. They can result from a variety of malfunctions, neglect, and situations. These types of fires can cause serious damage to your property and surrounding areas, and they can cause injury and even death among your workers. Protecting your workers and your site is your first responsibility as a company owner, and limiting the electrical dangers and preventing fires on the jobsite is essential to a safe and productive work environment for your employees. Although the awareness of electrical fire hazards has steadily grown on jobsites over the past few decades and the general safety on jobsites have seen incredible improvement, there is still a lot more that managers can do to protect their workers. Check out these tips to prevent electrical fires on the jobsite.

Minimize unnecessary electrical contact

One of the best things you can do for your workers to protect them from electrical fires is to minimize unnecessary contact with electricity. Often, on jobsites, there is already existing means of electricity, whether it be lines above or below the ground or even an existing electrical system within the building under construction. This being the case, there are ample opportunities for accidental electrical exposure, if you and your workers aren’t careful. On a jobsite, it’s common to have multiple teams working at the same time on different areas or projects. Though this is a great way to keep the job efficient and to save time, it can lead to potential dangers if communication between groups is lacking. Do these three easy things to make your site safer from electrical fires:

Communicate

Communication is key in all aspects of life, but it’s especially vital when it comes to electrical safety on a jobsite. Create a schedule for each team so that each leader knows what is going on around the jobsite, as well as when and where it is happening. This way, electricians can avoid completing electrical work while others are in the area. If a scheduled task changes or something doesn’t go as planned, communicate with not only the team that changed but all surrounding teams as well. Clear communication can be the difference between a safe jobsite and one that burns down.

Create a barrier

Creating a barrier between any electrical components and other areas is another great way to lower the risk of electrical fires on your jobsite. Installing insulation equipment such as conduit and rubber mats around electrical components and other electrical areas will prevent the electricity from moving. In addition to these barriers, put up signs letting workers know where electrical components are so they can avoid them.

De-energize electrical components

De-energize any electrical areas that aren’t actively necessary. Shutting off the electricity at the source is the best way to accomplish this. Doing so removes nearly all risk of electrical fires in that particular area. Even when an area is de-energized, workers should treat it as a full energized area as an extra precaution. Ensure that your workers understand this and are just as cautious in these areas as they are in active ones.

Require workers to wear protective gear

Requiring workers to wear personal protective equipment when on the jobsite, even when not actively wiring with electricity, can be crucial to keeping them safe from electrical fires. Each worker and person onsite should wear a properly insulated helmet for protection and to help prevent contact with overhead wires, which is one leading cause of injury, death, and electrical fires on jobsites. Eye and face protection are also necessary while on a jobsite to prevent injury in the case of an arc flash, which causes molten metal shrapnel to fly through the air at dangerous speeds. Hand protection is also essential and should also be insulated to help stop the flow of an electric current in case a worker accidentally makes contact with energized equipment.

Survey a site before starting work

A top way to prevent electrical fires on a jobsite is to take a survey of the site every day before beginning to work on it. While this may seem tedious, skipping this step can be detrimental to a jobsite’s safety and expose it to a higher risk of electrical fires. Have a safety manager inspect each portion of the jobsite each day and evaluate any electrical components that pose a potential risk. This can identify extreme risks so you can address them before workers are on the jobsite. Surveying your site is one of the best things you can do to protect it from electrical fires. Hiring electrical consultancy services is another great way to protect your site. Professional electrical engineers can assess your site and ensure that it is the safest it can be.

Increase electrical safety training

One of the top complaints from workers in the construction industry is a lack of sufficient safety training available to them. Workers who are well-informed and trained will be safer themselves and will create a safer worksite for those around them. Provide both required and supplemental electrical safety courses for your workers to take. This can train them about what causes electrical fires and how they, both as individuals and as a team, can prevent them on their worksite. It is best to create a new course for each area and each jobsite so that it can address specific dangers and provide relevant examples. General safety courses, while helpful, are not as focused and will not help your team as much as specific electrical safety courses will. Appointing a safety education manager can keep the team well-informed and up to date on any looming electrical dangers to avoid and how to minimize the threat of electrical fires.

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