9 Secrets of Successful Electrical Safe Work Practices
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9 Secrets of Successful Electrical Safe Work Practices

08/21/17

In order to establish a culture of safety in your facility, it’s important to remember that safety is a never-ending process.

One of the first steps to true electrical safety compliance is the creation of an Electrical Safe Work Practices (ESWP) policy. The ESWP is a written document that establishes expected work procedures and covers such things as:

  • lockout/tagout procedures,
  • methods of qualifying workers,
  • selection and application of personal protective equipment (PPE),
  • methods of establishing a safe work area,
  • arc flash and shock protection calculations,
  • equipment labeling and
  • worker audit procedures.

An effective ESWP needs to be well communicated throughout the organization, workers should be properly trained and regular reviews of worker actions and the policy itself should be implemented.

Check out these 9 secrets to a successful ESWP and see how your electrical safety policy stacks up.

Have Leadership’s Blessing
To be effective, an ESWP should be understood and approved from the top-down. Does senior leadership engage, approve, understand and embrace your ESWP? Reinforcement of the safety message from senior leadership is a key component to building a sustainable safety culture.

Be Clear and Concise
Is your ESWP clear, concise and enforced consistently? Workers need to know how to follow safe work practices to get the task done.

Include Independent Contractors
If you have independent contractors working in your facility, their safety is your responsibility. Meet with your contractors and make sure they understand your safe practices. Supervision and enforcement is key here.

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Enforcement is Vital
Even if your workers are “competent persons”, are you enforcing your electrical safety program? Per NFPA 70E 105.3 -- the employer is responsible to direct activity for electrical hazards, voltage, energy level and circuit conditions. Having a written documented, enforced and consistently applied program is essential for safe work. Remember, just because your workers have passed training does not mean that they have ‘demonstrated the skills and knowledge’ to perform the job safely as prescribed by the definition of a qualified employee in OSHA 1910.399. Only you can make sure they do. 

Include Personal Protective Gear Review
Personal protective gear (PPE) is essential to use when working with electricity, but don’t rely on it as a crutch! There are many variables that can hinder its effectiveness. Is the PPE in proper condition? Are you using the right PPE for the task? Has it been stored and maintained according to manufacturer recommendations?

PPE is your last chance for protection and if it malfunctions or is rated incorrectly, someone will get hurt.

Be Audited Regularly
An ESWP should be audited within the entire organization on a minimum three-year cycle to ensure compliance. When was the last time you reviewed the policy?

Review Near Misses
Do you have a near miss policy at your facility? Ensure all levels of management are reviewing near misses and compiling additional ESWP safety practices to add to the document and prevent unnecessary future accidents.

Include Electrical Equipment Maintenance
The old saying — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — doesn’t apply here. Make sure your facility’s electrical equipment maintenance is up-to-date. What is the condition of your equipment and how does it work? Do you know the arc flash incident levels? Is it labeled correctly? Make sure it is operating as designed to prevent any unnecessary hazards.

Train Workers to Instinctively Think Safe
Make sure you are constantly educating, supervising work and enforcing your safety policies to make sure your workers are always thinking about the safest way to perform the work. Safety should be observed as job #1. Require your workers to perform a job safety analysis:

  • Look at the task to be performed and consider equipment and direct hazards involved
  • What other hazards are in the area of intended work?
  • How many workers are required for the task?
  • What qualification and protection is required of workers and other tradesmen in the area?

What is your response in case of an emergency?
Think about what could go wrong before you start working and know your exits. Remember regulatory compliance is the minimum requirement for a safe working environment. It is not a bar to meet, but to exceed. Discovering and implementing best practices for your facility are important to creating a true culture of safety.

Bonus: The often overlooked ESWP is vital to the success of a company’s electrical safety program. Watch this webinar to learn about the first step to NFPA 70E compliance.