Protective Measures

There are various ways of protecting people from the hazards caused by electricity, including insulation, guarding live parts, grounding, electrical protective devices, and safe work practices.

Insulation

One way to safeguard individuals from electrically energized wires and parts is through insulation. An insulator is any material with high resistance to electric current. To be effective, the insulation must be appropriate for the voltage, and the insulating material must be undamaged, clean, and dry.

Insulators — such as glass, mica, rubber, and plastic — are put on conductors to prevent shock, fires, and short circuits. Before employees prepare to work with electric equipment, it is always a good idea for them to check the insulation before making a connection to a power source to be sure there are no exposed wires. The insulation of flexible cords, such as extension cords, is particularly vulnerable to damage.

The insulation that covers conductors is regulated by Subpart S, Part 1910.302, Design Safety Standards for Electrical Systems. Subpart S generally requires that circuit conductors (the material through which current flows) be insulated to prevent people from coming into accidental contact with the current. Also, the insulation should be suitable for the voltage and existing conditions, such as temperature, moisture, oil, gasoline, or corrosive fumes. All these factors must be evaluated before the proper choice of insulation can be made.


Conductors and cables are marked by the manufacturer to show the maximum voltage and American Wire Gage size, the type letter of the insulation, and the manufacturer’s name or trademark. Insulation is often color coded. In general, insulated wires used as equipment grounding conductors are either continuous green or green with yellow stripes. The grounded conductors that complete a circuit are generally covered with continuous white or natural gray-colored insulation. The ungrounded conductors, or “hot wires,” may be any color other than green, white, or gray. They are often colored black or red.

Guarding

Live parts of electric equipment operating at 50 volts or more must be guarded against accidental contact. Guarding of live parts may be accomplished by:
  • Location in a room, vault, or similar enclosure accessible only to qualified persons.
  • Use of permanent, substantial partitions or screens to exclude unqualified persons.
  • Location on a suitable balcony, gallery, or platform elevated and arranged to exclude unqualified persons; or
  • Elevation of 8 feet (2.44 meters) or more above the floor.
Entrances to rooms and other guarded locations containing exposed live parts must be marked with conspicuous warning signs forbidding unqualified persons to enter.

Indoor electric wiring more than 600 volts and that is open to unqualified persons must be made with metal-enclosed equipment or enclosed in a vault or area controlled by a lock. In addition, equipment must be marked with appropriate caution signs.

Grounding

Grounding is another method of protecting employees from electric shock; however, it is normally a secondary protective measure. The ten-n “ground” refers to a conductive body, usually the earth, and means a conductive connection, whether intentional or accidental, by which an electric circuit or equipment is connected to earth or the ground plane.

By “grounding” a tool or electrical system, a low-resistance path to the earth is intentionally created. When properly done, this path offers sufficiently low resistance and has sufficient current carrying capacity to prevent the buildup of voltages that may result in a personnel hazard. This does not guarantee that no one will receive a shock, be injured, or be killed. It will, however, substantially reduce the possibility of such accidents, especially when used in combination with other safety measures discussed in this section.

There are two kinds of grounds required in OSHA’s electrical standard. One of these is called the “service or system ground.” In this instance, one wire, called “the neutral conductor” or “grounded conductor,” is grounded. In an ordinary low-voltage circuit, the white (or gray) wire is grounded at the generator or trans-former and again at the service entrance of the building. This type of ground is primarily designed to protect machines, tools, and insulation against damage.

To offer enhanced protection to the workers themselves, an additional ground, called the “equipment ground,” must be furnished by providing another path from the tool or machine through which the current can flow to the ground. This additional ground safeguards the electric equipment operator in the event that a malfunction causes the metal frame of the tool to become accidentally energized. The resulting heavy surge of current will then activate the circuit protection devices and open the circuit.

Circuit protection devices

Circuit protection devices are designed to automatically limit or shut off the flow of electricity in the event of a ground-fault, overload, or short circuit in the wiring system. Fuses, circuit breakers, and ground-fault circuit interrupters are three well known examples of such devices.

Fuses and circuit breakers are over-current devices that are placed in circuits to monitor the amount of current that the circuit will carry. They automatically open or break the circuit when the amount of current flow becomes excessive and therefore unsafe. Fuses are designed to melt when too much current flows through them. Circuit breakers, on the other hand, are designed to trip open the circuit by electro-mechanical means.

Fuses and circuit breakers are intended primarily for the protection of conductors and equipment. They prevent over-heating of wires and components that might otherwise create hazards for operators. They also open the circuit under certain hazardous ground-fault conditions.

The ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is designed to shutoff electric power within as little as !/40 of a second. It works by comparing the amount of current going to electric equipment against the amount of current returning from the equipment along the circuit conductors. If the current difference exceeds six milliamperes, the GFCI interrupts the current quickly enough to prevent electrocution. The GFCI is used in high-risk areas such as wet locations and construction sites.

Safe work practices

Employees and others working with electric equipment need to use safe work practices. Electrical safety-related work practice requirements are contained in Subpart S, Sections 1910.331-1910.335. These include:
  • Deenergizing electric equipment before inspecting or making repairs,
  • Using electric tools that are in good repair,
  • Using good judgment when working near energized lines, and
  • Using appropriate protective equipment.

Training

To ensure that they use safe work practices, employees must be aware of the electrical hazards to which they will be exposed. Employees must be trained in safety-related work practices as well as any other procedures necessary for safety from electrical hazards.

Deenergizing electrical equipment

The accidental or unexpected sudden starting of electrical equipment can cause severe injury or death. Before ANY inspections or repairs are made — even on the so-called low-voltage circuits — the current must be turned off at the switch box and the switch padlocked in the OFF position. At the same time, the switch or controls of the machine or other equipment being locked out of service must be securely tagged to show which equipment or circuits are being worked on.

Maintenance employees should be qualified electricians who have been well instructed in lockout procedures. No two locks should be alike; each key should fit only one lock, and only one key should be issued to each maintenance employee. If more than one employee is repairing a piece of equipment, each should lock out the switch with his or her own lock and never permit anyone else to remove it. The maintenance worker should at all times be certain that he or she is not exposing other employees to danger.

Overhead lines

If work is to be performed near overhead power lines, the lines must be deenergized and grounded by the owner or operator of the lines, or other protective measures must be provided before work is started. Protective measures (such as guarding or insulating the lines) must be designed to prevent employees from contacting the lines.
Unqualified employees and mechanical equipment must stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines. If the voltage is more than 50,000 volts, the clearance must be increased by 4 inches for each additional 10,000 volts.


When mechanical equipment is being operated near overhead lines, employees standing on the ground may not contact the equipment unless it is located so that the required clearance cannot be violated even at the maximum reach of the equipment.

Protective equipment

Employees whose occupations require them to work directly with electricity must use the personal protective equipment required for the jobs they perform. This equipment may consist of rubber insulating gloves, hoods, sleeves, matting, blankets, line hose, and industrial protective helmets.

Tools

To maximize his or her own safety, an employee should always use tools that work properly. Tools must be inspected before use, and those found questionable, removed from service and properly tagged. Tools and other equipment should be regularly maintained. Inadequate maintenance can cause equipment to deteriorate, resulting in an unsafe condition.

Tools that are used by employees to handle energized conductors must be designed and constructed to withstand the voltages and stresses to which they are exposed.

Good judgment

Perhaps the single most successful defense against electrical accidents is the continuous exercising of good judgment or common sense. All employees should be thoroughly familiar with the safety procedures for their particular jobs. When work is performed on electrical equipment, for example, some basic procedures are:
  • Have the equipment deenergized;
  • Ensure that the equipment remains deenergized by using some type of lockout and tag procedure;
  • Use insulating protective equipment; and
  • Keep a safe distance from energized parts.
The control of electrical hazards is an important part of every safety and health program. The measures suggested in this section should be of help in establishing such a program of control. The responsibility for this program should be delegated to individuals who have a complete knowledge of electricity, electrical work practices, and the appropriate OSHA standards for installation and performance.

Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment. Through cooperative efforts, employers and employees can learn to identify and eliminate or control electrical hazards.

1 comment:

seo.gopinath said...

osha safety compliance training We can help you avoid or eliminate issues that lead to injury, disease or death in the workplace. We help you reduce workers' compensation and legal liabilities environmental compliance services


Popular Posts