While National Electrical Safety Month was created and is also primarily managed by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), a number of other entities engage in activities and promote in other ways. These include the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
"It is my understanding that National Electrical Safety Month was first introduced by ESFI in the mid-1990s," said Michael Johnston, executive director, standards and safety, for NECA. "One reason for its introduction was to bring more awareness to home electrical safety for families."
How has NECA been participating?
"In 2011, when NECA held its first NECA Safety Professionals Conference, we specifically selected May for this conference, since it was National Electrical Safety Month," Johnston said. "In addition, NECA likes to promote a lot of safety activities during this month, such as more awareness of arc flash safety."
What can electrical contractors do to promote safety during May? For those who specialize in residential work, Johnston has three recommendations.
"First, they can make people aware of the common electrical hazards that can exist in homes, such as overloading of extension cords," he said. "There are a number of situations in which extension cords overheat and catch fire in homes."
Second, residential contractors can also remind customers to replace the batteries in their smoke detectors each May. Third, contractors should encourage residential customers to arrange for the installation of ground fault circuit protectors.
"These can be especially important in kitchens," he said.
For contractors who are focused primarily commercial and/or industrial work, opportunities also exist.
"What we are really promoting this year as part of our Safety Professionals Conference is to encourage contractors to become involved in customers' electrical maintenance programs," Johnston said.
As he sees it, equipment maintenance is key to keeping employees safe.
"We will be encouraging our members to take the message back to their customers, that, if they haven't had their equipment investigated, cleaned and maintained recently, it may be time for them to have that done," Johnston said.
For more on National Electrical Safety Month, visit the ESFI's website.