By Dennis K. Neitzel, CPE AVO Training Institute, Inc.
The need for analyzing electrical hazards in the workplace has been recognized by a small segment of the industry for many years. The petrochemical industry and many government institutions have performed research on this subject for over thirty years. For the most part however, the electrical industry, at least at the user level, has largely ignored the subject, essentially reacting to catastrophic accidents rather than proactively trying to predict and prevent them. Recent changes in consensus standards, along with a better general understanding of the seriousness of electrical hazards have resulted in a renewal of interest in the subject. This article will provide an overview of the three principle types of electrical hazard analysis, along with a discussion of the relevant standards and regulations pertaining to the subject.
Shock Hazard Analysis
Each year several hundred workers are killed as a result of inadvertent contact with energized conductors. Surprisingly, over half of those killed are not in traditionally electrical fields (i.e. linemen, electricians, technicians, etc.), but are from related fields such as painters, laborers, and drivers. Recent investigations into the causes of these fatalities point to three principle causal factors:
Failure to properly or completely de-energize systems prior to maintenance or repair work;
Intentionally working on energized equipment; and
Improper or inadequate grounding of electrical system components.