After being in the electrical industry for over 10 years, the safety of myself, my co-workers and the public became a top priority of mine. When I began my apprenticeship, I was never really exposed to the dangers of electricity so to speak. I was a domestic electrician constructing new homes where majority of the time the power had not yet been connected. Once I became fully qualified, I decided to test my skills and become a high voltage electrician.
When working with electricity you are constantly required to have critical problems solving skills. While I love solving problems, there is an added element to this process that results in dire consequences if you make one small mistake. I began to quickly adopt the safety culture of the electrical industry when I was exposed to an 11kV electrical fault on a transformer installation. I became quickly aware that to ensure the safety of myself and others I would need to strictly follow the ‘Workplace Health and Safety Act and Regulations.
Electrical safety is regulated by Workplace Health and Safety which states that every employer is responsible for ensuring that all employees are safe from injury and risk to health while in the workplace. By studying my companies Safety Management system, I was able to understand the requirements of working safely.
Managing Risk / Implementing Controls
To ensure the safety of yourself and co-workers it is important to first identify the hazards/risks associated with the tasks you are performing. Some hazards to consider in the electrical industry are:
- Contact with ‘Live’ Parts (Electric Shock)
- Equipment failure
- Arc Flash
- Toxic Fumes
- Operating Defective Equipment
While these are few of many hazards present, these are generally the most common. The best way to manage risk is by risk analysis. This is completed by measuring the likelihood of the hazard and the consequence if an incident were to occur. A helpful identification tool is the risk matrix below.
Once you have established the level of risk involved you are then able to prioritise actions required to control/manage the hazard/risk. The desired outcome is to have effective controls in place which will lower the risk associated with the hazard. When deciding on effective controls you should follow the hierarchy of controls table below which identifies the most effective way to control hazards/risks.
When you have agreed controls in place you are then able to re-evaluate the risk of performing the task referred to as the residual risk. If your residual risk score is not lower than the inherent risk score calculated before the controls were implemented, then you may need to consider some more effective controls.
Safe Work Method Statements
In my experience I have found the most effective tool to use that will help you understand the task you are performing where you can identify hazards/risks and controls is a ‘Safe Work Method Statement’ (SWMS). This document clearly defines each job step required to complete a task outlining the hazards, risks, agreed controls and who is responsible for administering the controls. Typically, this is completed before work is started and reviewed by all personal performing the task. Each worker has the opportunity to add ideas or amendments to the SWMS where they believe contributes to the overall safety of the job.
Eccentricity Pty Ltd prides itself in maintaining a high level of safety through the training and competencies of its workers. Our Quality, Safety and Environmental Management System (QSEMS) has been developed to international ISO standards to ensure the safety of all parties involved in tasks completed at the workplace. If you have safety management systems in place, we would love to hear what works best for your company. Let us know in the comments below.