Electrical work runs the risk of electrocution and other related incidents on site. Hence, the need for electrical PPE as a safety precaution to counter the hazardous workplace.
Wearing PPE is a requirement across several industries. It’s a safety essential that workers have to wear in various construction and maintenance activities.
Electrical projects need them, especially with the risk of electricity not being visible to the naked eye. Electricians both have to be aware of their surroundings and avoid getting into direct contact with electricity.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International or ESFI recorded an electrical fatality rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers in 2019. For non-fatal electrical injuries, there were around 1,340 electrical shocks and 470 burns associated with electricity-related activities.
Contractors can counter these incidents with electrical PPE and preventive maintenance. Hence, when choosing an electrical contractor for a project, it’s best to identify a contractor with complete PPE while working on site.
What Is Electrical PPE?
PPE means Personal Protective Equipment, and it’s a standard safety gear worn across various hazardous jobs. For electricians, the PPE they wear has to protect them from the elements and another layer of protection against open electric currents.
There are two types of PPE that electricians and contractors have to wear and use while in an electrical project site. They are the electrical PPE and IPE or insulating protective equipment. Both are necessary and serve a different purpose to protect the worker.
Electrical PPE (PPE)
Electrical PPE is worn directly by the electrician. It protects them from exposure to electricity while they’re doing their job.
The electrical PPE serves both purposes for general protection against hazards on the premises and direct contact against electricity. An electrician must wear them at all times during their work and while they’re within the vicinity. It eliminates incidents such as getting burned or wounded from hazardous equipment.
Insulating Protective Equipment (IPE)
Another type of protective equipment is the IPE or Insulating Protective Equipment. The protective gear includes rubber and hardcover insulation that protects them from direct contact with electrical devices.
IPE is not worn on the body and instead assists the electrician on their tasks. Using IPE reduces the instance of having to hold or touch stray voltage. It becomes a lot easier to perform the electrician’s duty while maintaining a proper safety approach.
What Is the PPE Used in Electrical Safety?
PPE for electrical safety is different as it has to protect the wearer from physical and electrical injuries. The U.S. indicates these specific requirements and guidelines in the NFPA 70E or the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Electrical PPE helps to reduce occupational injuries in electrical projects from arc flashes to shock hazards.
Here are the various electrical PPE that workers must have to maintain safety:
1. Eye and face protection
Safety glasses and shields are part of the PPE to protect the eyes and face. They help counter against arc flashes and flying objects. PPE specifically for the eyes and the face have to be worn in intensive duties. This can include splicing wires where tiny bits and pieces could injure the electrician’s eye or face.
2. Head protection
Hard hats are a common sight and are one of the basic safety gear for electricians. Wearing them prevents the electrician from electrical shorts or falling objects on the worksite.
Electrical contractors and even visitors are obliged to wear them at all times on the premises. This is a safety precaution that they have to follow to protect their head against unexpected incidents. Electricians particularly have to choose durable hard hats during the time they are within the serviced area.
3. Torso and Limb protection
An electrician must wear flame-resistant clothing to avoid getting caught easily with fires. It also helps protect them against arc flashes when doing electrical work.
Aside from protecting them from getting burned, electrical PPE clothing has to be comfortable for the worker as well. They have to be not too tight or loose so the electrician can still perform their duties accordingly.
4. Foot protection
Stepping on to an ongoing construction has the risk of being grounded. This is why electricians will need to wear safety shoes and overshoes to protect them from the stray voltage on the floor.
Safety shoes also serve a purpose other than preventing the electrician from getting grounded. Additionally, they also protect the feet from falling objects or stepping on sharp materials from the surface.
5. Miscellaneous protective gear
To ensure complete protection, electrical contractors also have their workers wear proper attire underneath their PPE. The clothing has to be comfortable enough before wearing the PPE. They may also add other gear to protect electricians from their risky job. This can include reflective vests to make them visible in areas with minimal lighting and rubberized gloves when holding electrical devices.
Why Electrical PPE Is Important
Both electrical and insulating PPE serves a purpose in safeguarding the contractors while doing their job in a hazardous environment. It helps prevent accidents and follows the OSHA policies required for the site.
Prevents accidents in the workplace
Working on an electrical project poses several hazards for the workers – be it from falling objects and stray current around. With electrical PPE, they are less likely to encounter accidents and suffer injuries.
Our physical bodies are good conductors of electricity. Even electricity as small as three milliamperes can cause indirect or secondary injuries from the reaction to the electrical current flowing through the body. The electrical shock could cause bruises, bone fractures, or falling out of balance. Thus, contractors have to be extra cautious by wearing electrical PPE.
Workplace injuries are avoidable when electrical workers wear complete PPE. The contractors and the property will be safe from damages and any untoward incidents. Even if the contractor has insurance, it’s still best to maintain proper safety and achieve fewer injury records.
Follows OSHA standards
OSHA, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, provides federal government-mandated safety guidelines for proper and safe workplaces. OSHA has a strict policy for workplace safety, and electrical PPE is one of them.
Electrical contractors will have to follow the guidelines set by OSHA, from the protective gear to safety procedures in electrical projects. Before electricians get a license, they are required to undergo proper safety training. One of which is the proper use of electrical PPE and following safety procedures in their job. They have to follow the guidelines set by OSHA, such as wearing electrical PPE at all times on the job site.
Choosing a Contractor Who Prioritizes Safety
An electrical contractor has to provide a complete and proper electrical PPE for its workers. You can see this from the hard hat they have to wear at all times to a fully protected gear when accessing dangerous electrical installations.
When choosing a contractor, it’s important to consider if they put a premium on the safety of its workers. They have to invest in durable PPE that will help protect the electricians working on site. Complete electrical PPE is an indication that the contractor is a reliable partner for your project. It’s about ensuring the safety of the workers to prevent delays and unnecessary expenses from injuries happening on site.
Any electrical injuries can cause days out of work for the worker. Not to mention the additional costs that may arise from the accident. Thus, you have to select an electrical contractor who invests in proper PPE for their workers.
Minnesota-based network Power Partner MN has contractors who follow proper OSHA guidelines on wearing electrical PPE. Power Partner MN coordinates with institutions to provide ongoing safety training programs. This is to ensure that contractors maintain proper PPE for electrical safety and risk reduction in the workplace. Your electrical projects are more likely to go smoothly with reduced possibilities of adverse electrical events.