In the competitive and dangerous field of electrical construction, safety issues are vital. If a contractor has too many job-related accidents and an unsatisfactory safety rating, it could directly impact the company’s productivity, performance, insurance rating and bottom line.
Having a trained safety professional on-site can help improve not only the company’s work habits but overall productivity as well. It also frees up the owner to focus on planning for future growth rather than keeping an eye on proper safety practices.
Use and care for tools properly
An electrician’s tools are precise and unique to the trade. The right tools make a job easier, eliminate repetitive-use injuries and reduce work-related impairment. Hand and power tools created for an intended use must adhere to their manufactured purpose.
- Hand tools. Have enough spare wire cutters, pliers, hacksaws, screwdrivers and socket sets so that all workers have access to them when they need them. Replace hand tools when they begin to slip, fail or no longer cut precisely. Too often, simple activities like tightening a screw or nut can cause unnecessary injuries because of old or damaged tools. Check the condition of tools at the start of each day to help prevent easily avoidable accidents.
- Power tools. Proper training and appropriate instruction are critical before allowing any worker to use a power tool of any kind. Your safety person or foreman can help ensure employees know how to use tools safely and correctly. When disconnecting power tools, hold the plug instead of tugging on the line. At the start of each day, check that cords, plugs and other power tool parts are all working correctly.
- Battery-operated tools. Battery-operated tools are convenient, but just because they are battery-operated does not mean they’re any less dangerous than a standard power tool. Dropping or mishandling them can render them useless, and a crack in the case of the battery cell is dangerous. Remind your employees that they should use and care for these tools just as respectfully as corded power tools.
- Extension cords. A worn extension cord with exposed wires or tape is hazardous and should not be used. Extension cords must be appropriately repaired to meet safety standards. Be careful about where the cord runs as well. If cords rub against sharp objects or get pinched, their insulation can be scored or severed, which is a major safety concern.
- Protective gear. The most basic safety gear consists of rubber-soled steel-tip boots, adequately fitted helmets, arc shields, rubber gloves and goggles. Check protective gear before and after use. Visually inspect gloves for holes each day, and discard and replace as necessary. Inspect other safety equipment as often as possible and repair or replace it as needed.
Other tool safety tips
- Tie back long hair or loose clothing that could catch in a revolving power tool.
- Pull wrenches toward you rather than pushing them, which can result in them slipping out of your hand and causing injury.
- Avoid using dull knives or wire cutters. They won’t cut as effectively and present a great risk for injury.
- To prevent kickback, secure a pipe in place before cutting it.
- Tag and lock out circuit breaker panels while working on the lines. Not taking the time to do this could cause serious injury.
Be aware of what is going on around you at all times on the job site. It’s important to be smart about where tools are left, too. Remembering where you last put down a tool can prevent injury to a worker in the vicinity. Encourage your employees to always put tools back in their designated place when not in use.
Take a final look
Being professional means being trained adequately, having confidence in the work performed and taking pride in a job well done. It also means having thought through all of the steps to perform each job and double-checking that work is done correctly. Even when you have the right tools and techniques, a final check could make all the difference.
About The Author
For more than 40 years, Hector Seda has worked in residential, commercial and healthcare construction. He has built custom homes, multiple family apartment buildings, and retail spaces in New York and New Jersey. He also writes for The Home Depot, which carries a wide selection of electrical tools and accessories like those discussed in this article.