Everything You Need To Know About PPE For Electrical Safety
All About PPE For Electrical Safety
Electricity has proven to be a boon for humankind. It has paved a path for humans to prosper and develop. No doubt, without electricity, humans would never have reached these heights. At the same time, there is no denying the potential dangers of electricity. In the United States, electrocution is one of the major causes (sixth to be precise) of death and injuries in the industrial workforce. This makes the use of PPE for electrical safety much more necessary & vital.
According to a source, there are approximately 1000 deaths per year due to electricity in the United States itself. 400 deaths per year in the United States are due to high voltage electricity, mostly due to the lack of PPE for electrical safety. Deaths due to lighting ranges from 50 to 300. The extent of electricity is not restricted only to deaths, but there are also electrical injuries i.e., injuries due to electricity. There are around 4000 to 5000 electrical injuries in the United States.
Note: It is interesting to note that there are around 30,000 to 35,000 electricity shock incidents per year. But, most of them are non-fatal or harmless due to PPE for electrical safety.
You can check out more details on electrical injuries in the US.
Industries have understood the high risks of electricity. Even in developing and under-developed nations, workers working with or around high voltage electricity are provided at least basic PPE for electrical safety. So, in this article, we will go through every PPE for electrical safety. Let’s begin without any further ado. But, before that let’s understand more about electrical hazards.
In an industry, employees and workers are exposed to many electrical hazards. Working conditions in industries often involve working around or with electrical equipment. When employees and workers are around or working with electrical equipment that is above 50 volts (AC or DC), they working with electrical hazards. The major hazards of working around or with electrical equipment happen due to touching or placing any body part (knowingly or unknowingly) on electric lines. The different types of electric hazards are electric shock hazards, arc flash hazards, and other hazards.
Electric Shock Hazards:
Shock hazards are a much more common type of electrical hazard. They are mostly non-fatal at low voltage, but high voltage shocks are considered to be dangerous and fatal. The extent of electric shock hazard depends upon the level of voltage to which the worker or the employee is facing. PPE for electrical safety is chosen upon the level of voltage. Shock protective PPE for electrical safety usually protects the body parts which may be exposed or may touch electrical equipment.
Arc Flash Hazards:
Workers or employees exposed to arc flash hazards are identified based on the incident energy provided to the electrical equipment. NFPA 70E tables help in calculating the incident energy of this electrical equipment. Arc Flash protection PPE for electrical safety must protect the worker or employee at or above the incident energy received by the electrical equipment. Arc Flash protection PPE for electrical safety includes the protective gear that protects every body part.
Curious ones can find out more details on Arc Flash Hazards.
When an employee or worker is working around or with electrical equipment, they may be exposed to other industrial hazards as well. These hazards may be slips or trips due to the surface or faulty equipment, falls from elevation, cuts & scratches due to wires, tools, sharp edges, and faulty equipment. Rotating equipment such as electric motors and gears can also cause injuries. Moreover, heat and fire hazards are a high possibility as well. Confined workplaces can cause respiratory hazards as well. These other hazards should also be considered while selecting PPE for electrical safety.
Requirements & Guidelines for PPE for Electrical Safety
- PPE for electrical safety will be provided by the employer.
- PPE for electrical safety must be selected only after a proper hazard analysis or assessment.
- PPE for electrical safety must be appropriately rated for the given electrical hazard.
- Appropriate PPE training of all the employees must be the employer’s responsibility.
- Maintenance of PPE for electrical safety is the sole responsibility of the employee or worker.
- Testing & replacing PPE for electrical safety can be requested by the employee or worker. The employer must ensure that proper testing and replacement of PPE (if necessary) are done in time.
- Testing and maintenance of PPE for electrical safety should be done according to the guidelines, regulations, and instructions laid down by the manufacturer.
- Certain garments, fabrics, materials, certain PPE should not be donned while wearing arc flash protection PPE for electrical safety. Employees and workers should strictly follow it.
PPE Hazard Analysis or Assessment and its importance
PPE hazard analysis or assessment should be planned and performed by the employer. It plays an important role in the selection of PPE for electrical safety. It helps in the determination of various electrical hazards. It also classifies them and identifies potentially fatal and non-fatal electrical hazards. It also helps in identifying the body parts which should be protected.
Check out our blog on PPE hazard assessment.
Some Important PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for Electrical Safety
PPE for electrical safety can be differentiated into seven types. Based on these types, there are different PPE for electrical safety.
The list of basic PPE along with its types are as follows -
- PPE for body protection - Protective Clothing with Long Sleeves made up of Cotton, Protective Clothing with insulating sleeves, Arc rated clothing, and Flame Resistant clothing.
- PPE for head protection - Helmet or hard hat (with partial or full brim).
- PPE for eye protection - Safety Goggles or Safety Glasses (sometimes with side shields).
- PPE for face protection - Flame Resistant Face Shields or Arc Flash Protection Hood.
- PPE for hand protection - Rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors for extra protection (in some cases the gloves should also be chemically resistant and cut resistant).
- PPE for foot protection - Safety shoes or footwear (steel-toed boots or dielectric rated footwear)
- PPE for ear protection - Hearing protectors like ear plugs or ear muffs.
In some cases, PPE for respiratory protection such as SCBA or respirators can also be used. Safety harnesses can be necessary when working at heights. Let’s discuss these PPE in detail.
PPE for Body Protection -
Electricity can cause bodily injuries. Especially, electric arcs, flashes from electricity, or explosions can cause harm to the employee or worker. They should don non-conductive body protection PPE that protects from electric arcs as well as flashes. If there is a hazard of any falling or flying object, then it should also be taken into consideration. Long sleeves and long pants are highly recommended. When arc flash hazards are present, then overalls or coveralls are recommended as PPE for body protection.
How do you choose body protection PPE? Find detailed information on body protection PPE.
PPE for Face & Head Protection -
Helmets or hard hats are donned if there is a risk of collision or danger of falling or flying objects. The danger of head injury can be from electric shock, arc flash, or even fire. Electric lines (though highly unlikely) In certain industrial workplaces, helmets or hard hats can be made compulsory. Face shields or protective hoods are a must when dealing with arc flashes. Protective hoods protect the entire face along with the head. Even balaclavas can be donned. It protects the entire head along with the neck.
PPE for Eye Protection -
PPE for eye protection is donned when there is a risk of splashes of fluids that can potentially damage the eyes. Employees and workers should don them when there is a possibility of spillage or splashes, electric sparks & arc flashes. Non-conductive safety goggles or safety glasses should be donned as PPE for electric safety. If face shields are donned, then safety goggles or safety glasses must always be donned beneath the face shields. (first, don safety goggles or safety glasses, and then face shield).
PPE for Hand Protection -
PPE for hand protection for electrical safety has to undergo a series of tests before they can be used. These safety gloves are tested and verified whether they are suitable for the given voltage. ANSI/ASTM labeling chart is used for insulated gloves which provides detailed information about them. Insulating safety gloves are preferred for high energized works and switching operations. For arc flash electrical hazards, rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors should be donned.
PPE for Foot Protection -
Safety footwear or shoes are usually made compulsory by the industries. The type of safety shoes can vary from industry to industry, the most common ones are steel-toed safety shoes, safety shoes made up of leather, and safety shoes with nonslip soles. Dielectric safety shoes are preferred for high energized works and switching operations. Maintenance of these safety shoes is the sole responsibility of the employee or worker.
How do you choose foot protection PPE? Find detailed information on foot protection PPE.
PPE for Ear Protection -
Hearing protectors such as ear muffs or ear plugs are donned compulsorily when one has to work in a noisy workplace. When working around an arc flash, PPE for ear protection is usually made compulsory.
PPE for Respiratory Protection -
Respirators are donned when there is a possibility of leakage of dangerous gas.
Other PPEs -
A safety harness is made compulsory for a worker who works at a height of 1.5 meters or above (measured from ground level). Workers may also be provided with fall arrest equipment when working at high heights. Choosing a safety harness should be based on the type of work and the worker donning it. The PPE donned must be comfortable and aid maneuverability.
Other PPEs and equipment that can be considered and used are insulated matting, insulated ladders, rescue rods, and voltage detectors.
Selection & Use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for Electrical Safety
- The employer should arrange for a PPE hazard analysis or assessment.
- Proper preparation must be done to assess the PPE hazard analysis or assessment and a detailed report may be prepared.
- Based on it, identification of required PPE must be done.
- The identified and shortlisted PPE must be procured and tested. Proper inspection must be done for any damages.
- Employees and workers must go through the guidelines, regulations, and requirements of PPE for electrical safety.
- Everyone must don PPE for electrical safety properly.
Training, Storage, and Maintenance of PPE for Electrical Safety
The maintenance of PPE is the sole responsibility of the employee or worker who dons it. They must be stored in cool, safe, and reliable conditions. The guidelines & instructions provided by the manufacturer must be followed.
The summary of training of employees and workers who don PPE for electrical safety is as follows
- Industry hazards are pointed out.
- Safety & Emergency procedures are explained.
- Few questions like when PPE is necessary, why PPE is necessary, what PPE is necessary, how to don & doff PPE, what are the limitations of PPE, and other such PPE-related questions & queries are solved.
- The importance of inspection, storage, disposal, care, and maintenance of PPE is taught.
Find out more details on PPE training.
PPE for electrical safety plays a major role in industries in the protection of the workforce. They reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to electrical hazards. Most industries in the world provide basic PPE for electrical safety. A proper electrical hazards assessment or analysis helps in the selection and shortlisting of PPE for electrical safety. There are basically seven major types of PPE for electrical safety based on the type of body part they protect.
It is important to understand that the aspects of PPE for electrical safety must be shared between employers and employees. While the training and provision of PPE for electrical safety must be provided by the employer, employees must ensure proper storage, use, and maintenance of PPE for electrical safety.
Use PPE! Stay Safe! Stay Wise! Stay True!