Hundreds of stories surface on the internet daily about people getting electric shocks. In some cases, the effects are only minor inconveniences to the subject, but in most of them – the victim suffers significant consequences.
Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that electrical safety in any place is never compromised. Whether it is your house, your office, or any other property – as long as people or animals use it, the place should be well maintained.
Regardless, such stories instigate multiple questions in one’s mind. What exactly is signified when we say uncompromised electricity safety? How can one make sure that it is actually uncompromised? What can happen if we fail to do so? How can we ensure that we are truly prepared for any unusual circumstances? And a lot more!
To answer all such questions, it is essential that we first know what electricity safety actually is.
What is electricity safety?
Electricity safety means ensuring complete protection of people residing in a place from electrical currents. In addition to human beings, all other living things are subject to this assurance too.
As the famous quote goes: “Do not play with electricity – it has the power to kill” – one can deduce that electricity is no joke. Any minor fault in the whole system can risk your life and that of those around you. The extent of these damages can never be estimated.
If you become subject to an electric shock – it has the potential to not only burn your skin – but also damage the internal organs. The after-effects of an electric shock can either be temporary and go away after a few days, or on the contrary, they could accompany you for life.
To understand electricity safety better, we need to know what electric current is. In physics, it is defined as the measure of the amount of electric charge passing over a point per unit of time.
The electric current can be measured in two ways: amperes or volts. While amperes are the measure of the volume of electrons, volts are the measure of the pressure that allows the movement of electrons. In this case, electrons are the electric charge.
A current at low or high voltage would not produce significant changes in terms of the after-effects. However, when we talk about amperes, a standard household circuit carries about 15 to 20 amperes. This corresponds to 15000 mA – 20000 mA. A current as low as six mA – 30mA can induce a painful shock which may lead to numbness of the muscles. Similarly, a current at 10000 mA can cause severe burns, cardiac arrest, and in some cases – even death.
However, you can never know how high or low the current is at any particular instance. Since contact with minimal values can also cause unexpected consequences – it is essential to make sure that the electrical safety of a place is well ensured.
7 Major Electrical Hazards
1. Damaged Insulation
Most electrical devices come with an outer covering to protect the internal components. Similarly, insulators are devices that separate electrical conductors from the surroundings by covering conductors with themselves. These insulators can not conduct electricity – so electricity safety is kept intact.
When this insulation becomes damaged, the internal parts are exposed to the environment. Contact with another conducting body, such as a human being, can then cause electric shocks.
2. Wet conditions
Water is a good conductor of electricity. Therefore, wet conditions significantly increase the chances of electrocution. This can often happen outdoors or in kitchens and bathroom outlets placed near a water source.
3. Improper grounding
The accidental removal or damage of the metallic ground pin can significantly threaten electricity safety. Without this pin, the unwanted voltage is not returned to the ground.
4. Exposed electrical components
Exposed electrical parts can also cause significant damage to electrical safety.
A few such examples are listed below:
- Open power distribution units
- Detached insulation parts of electrical chords
- Lighting (temporary)
5. Damaged equipment
People often try to save money by carrying out electrical operations themself. For example, they may tend to fix a damaged component independently.
This is extremely dangerous, especially when you are unfamiliar with the tools and pieces of equipment. They can be faulty or have certain defects. Therefore, if electricity safety is to be kept intact, you must abstain from carrying out such operations unless qualified to do so.
Even as a worker or an engineer, you should be careful about the equipment you work with.
6. Overhead power lines
Overhead power lines can electrocute someone as they carry a current of very high voltages. Therefore, if you ever come close to them or have to work with them – make sure to maintain a healthy distance.
7. Faulty wiring or overloaded circuits
Circuits can often become overloaded when wires of the wrong size or thickness are used. They can cause overheating and fires to occur. Similarly, the use of inappropriate circuit breakers also contributes to the cause. With such problems, electricity safety is endangered.
10 Crucial Electricity Safety Precautions
Electricity Safety precautions are the relevant control measures adopted to lower the risks of electrical hazards and to avoid any injuries or accidents related to the latter. This helps to establish the electricity safety of any area or place.
1. Replace any damaged wiring
Damaged, worn-out, or corroded wires can significantly threaten electricity safety. Therefore, try to replace or eliminate such wiring as soon as possible.
2. Avoid damp conditions
Avoid wet conditions near electrical outlets or appliances at all costs to keep electrical safety in check. At locations more prone to wet surroundings, such as kitchens or bathrooms, ensure an appropriate distance between the power outlets and the water source.
When doing chores, we often plug or unplug appliances to or from the outlets with our wet hands. If you’re someone who does this, it makes you an easy target for electric shocks as water is a relatively good conductor of electricity.
3. Careful placement of lightbulbs
Avoid the placement of lightbulbs near any flammable items. Although we usually regard them as safe objects, they can be very damaging in case of a potential fire and threaten your electricity safety significantly.
If you’re worried about fire, make sure your property complies with fire safety as well as electrical safety.
4. Do not pour water to extinguish an electrical fire
In case of an electrical fire, a common mistake is to pour water on top of it all. Instead of putting out the fire, water only fuels it further.
5. Keep children at a healthy distance
If you have children of your own or often have visitors around, you would be aware of how sneaky these little creatures can get. They’re intrigued by anything and everything around them. Therefore, you can avoid any negative consequences regarding electricity safety by covering all the power outlets with either plastic wrap or tape. Also, keeping any electrical appliance out of their reach is equally important.
6. Turn off extra appliances
Make sure to turn off any appliances you are not using—for example, a coffee maker. Many people make their coffee every morning but forget to turn it off afterwards. In case a power surge happens, this will not only damage your appliance but also be a potential threat to your electrical safety.
7. Professional Engineers
Avoid doing any do-it-yourself operations when it comes to electricity. Always have trained and professional engineers do the work for you to keep your electricity safety intact. Unless you are qualified to do so – do not work with electricity.
Ensure that all your appliances, chords, cables, and wires have proper installation. Some well-known insulating materials for electricity safety include:
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
9. Metallic ground pin
Make sure that the metallic ground pin is well intact.
10. Odd smell
If you observe any strange smell – immediately turn off all the appliances and get in touch with an engineer.
Practising Electricity Safety with Kids
Electricity safety means the protection of people residing in a place from electrical currents. As adults, it is our responsibility to ensure that the safety of our family members and houses (offices, other buildings, etc.) is not compromised.
However, it is equally essential that we train our children to become responsible. While they can not possibly look after the technical areas, what they can do is protect themselves from any potential harm. They tend to avoid dangers when they know what they should do and what they should stay away from; for example, inserting their fingers into sockets.
Educate them about electricity safety by teaching them the following:
- Never insert fingers or other objects into the outlet.
- Keep metal objects away from sockets, chords, etc
- Do not pull out plugs by tugging at their chords
- Never use a charger around water
- Do not fly kites around overhead power cables
How to Exercise Electricity Safety As a Worker
If you work in the field, following basic guidelines for all electrical work is the best way to prevent any electric shock or the like of it.
Following is a list of some essential tips to practice:
1. Shut off the power
Before doing any work, ensure that the power to that particular circuit or appliance is switched off. The safest method is to switch off the breaker from the breaker box or service panel.
2. Test the power
Once you have switched on the power, do a quick test to make sure of it. You can use a voltage tester on the device or the circuit you will work on. If the voltage reading is zero, you are good to go.
3. Avoid damp conditions
Avoid wet areas at all costs when working with electricity. Wear rubber boots and gloves to ensure your body does not come in contact with water when working outdoors. Throughout the process, make sure your hands are dry at all times. This ensures that electrical safety is kept intact.
4. Use insulated ladders
Do not use any metal ladders. They risk your electrical safety. Only opt for insulated ladders: those made of either wood or fibreglass.
5. Use warning signs
Post warning signs around when working on a breaker box or service panel to ensure no one else turns on any circuit breaker without your consent.
6. Beware of Warm outlets, chords and more
Usually, hot outlets or chords are a sign of unsafe wiring, which breaches your electrical safety. Therefore, unplug any devices they are connected to before proceeding to work.
7. Label devices
If you’re working at a new location, you must label all circuits, circuit breakers, and fuse boxes. The fuse box regulations in the UK also agree with this. This comes in handy in case of an emergency.
8. Wear Safety Gloves
Ensure you always have safety gloves on when working with electrical components, especially wires or cables. Even if they are insulated – the gloves are mandatory. They keep you safe from the after-effects of any potential risks to electrical safety.
9. Wear PPE
While gloves can only protect your hands, a PPE outfit will ensure complete protection and electricity safety. Typically, this includes safety glasses, safety gloves, rated hard hats, and shock-resistant safety shoes.
What Are The 5 Rules of Electricity Safety?
As described earlier, the five golden rules of electricity safety are to be followed by every worker who comes in contact with electricity. These workers can either be trained electricians, professional electrical engineers, or other jobholders whose work places them near the latter. An example could be a power plant operator or those who have jobs in other areas of the same plant.
The five golden rules of electricity safety to follow when working with the latter are summarized below:
Rule no.1: Always Disconnect the device or the circuit you are working with.
Rule no.2: Ensure that reconnection is not possible
Rule no.3: Ensure that the voltage is zero using a voltmeter
Rule no.4: Short-circuit and ground every Installation
Rule no.5: Block access to the area so that other people cannot access it.
What is The Most Important Rule of Electricity Safety?
When dealing with electricity safety as a whole, the most important rule to establish is the summary of the five golden rules.
Although it is supposed to sum up all rules, in precise words, it is rule number 1. Disconnecting whatever device you are working on is the most important of all, as the following rules can only be applied when the first is fully secure. With this connection halted, the possibility of getting an electric shock lowers, thus ensuring your electricity safety as a whole.
Landlord Electricity Safety Certificate
An electrical safety certificate is a legal requirement for landlords in the United Kingdom to supply to their tenants to ensure all electrical installations are safe to use. This certificate remains mandatory even if you’re practising Corporate let or unsure about the Letting type you will offer.
This certificate also ensures that landlords have all electrical installations inspected by a professional electrical engineer every five years. A copy of the certificate should be supplied to the tenants paying a Deposit and to the local authority if they require it.
While all other expectations are stated in a social housing white paper, every tenant expects to be handed the electricity safety certificate, gas safety certificate, and Proof of ownership in the form of property documents before any rental procedures are carried out.
Therefore, if you own a rental property, regardless of the type of tenancy, you are legally required to have an electrical safety certificate for it. It ensures the electricity safety of the place, so tenants are much more comfortable and at ease.
The electrical safety standards regulations 2020 were released on 1st June 2020. This specific regulation regarding the electricity safety certificate applies to all new tenancies in England that were created on or after 1st July 2020.
After an inspection, the landlord is required by law to do all of the following:
- Receive the report from the electrical engineer, which has both; the current results and the date of the next inspection.
- Deliver a report copy to the tenant within 28 days of inspection.
- Whenever the local authority requests, deliver a copy of the report within seven days of receiving the request.
- Keep a copy safe until the next inspection date, and supply one to the person carrying out the next inspection.
- Supply the copies to all prospective tenants.
Thus, the landlord’s electrical safety certificate has a lot of worth.
However, if your property fails on any evaluation, the report identifies urgent work or asks for ‘further investigation.
In such a case, the landlord has to ensure that the necessary work is carried out effectively by a qualified and competent person within 28 days of the inspection. The landlord then has to receive written confirmation from that person regarding the completion of the job and then supply it to all the tenants and the local authority to assure electricity safety within another 28 days.
This local authority should be the same local authority where they pay their council tax.
As can be deduced, the government of the United Kingdom had grave concerns for the electrical safety of those residing in rented housing. Therefore, these regulations were released on 1st July 2020 to protect people from potential electrical harm.
For further information, click here.
Energy Performance Certificate
An EPC is another document the law requires landlords to provide their tenants when they move in.
This EPC rental property is a certificate that deduces the energy efficiency of a property, rating it from A to G, where A represents the most efficient. This helps provide an estimated cost to heat and power that specific property.
It also includes any suggested improvements, their cost, and the savings one could generate with those changes.
If you lost your EPC, click here
Property Planning and Electricity Safety
As per the class use order, the shift from one use to another within a use is not considered development. Therefore, one can do Property Planning efficiently. If you rent out places, you can reach your goals by proving that you know and practice the responsibility of being a landlord.
The provision of the two certificates, along with the Gas Safety certificate, is an excellent way to do this.
How To Ensure Basic Electricity Safety
An electric shock can induce complications ranging from temporary sensations to permanent damages. Therefore, it is essential to ensure uncompromised electricity safety. Following is a list of methods to certify the latter.
1. Proper wiring
It is crucial to ensure that the wires used are of an appropriate size and thickness. For instance, if the wire is thin but carries a higher current – it can melt. Electricity safety is also often risked due to sudden surges in currents.
Proper wiring is essential for a safe circuit system as the contrary can lead to fires, power surges, etc. Therefore, you should avoid carrying out any electrical operations yourself and hire professional electricians to work for you.
2. Secure insulation
When the insulation is damaged, it can cause electrical components to come in contact with the surroundings. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the insulation is secure to confirm electricity safety.
3. Dry surroundings
Water is a good conductor of electricity. Therefore, it increases the chances of electrocution and hence – compromises electricity safety. Any areas surrounding power outlets or other electrical appliances should be kept dry to avoid such an occurrence.
Old, worn-out, or corroded components greatly risk electricity safety. The wires especially should be taken care of. An electrician should conduct regular inspections to ensure the whole circuit is well-maintained and well-kept.
As the quotes go: “Electrical safety is a full-time job” and “Electrical safety is no joke, correct the hazard or go up in smoke.” – one can clearly identify the hazards associated with the latter.
Even 5mA of an electric current can sting you painfully. No one in their sane mind wants to think of the after-effects of higher current levels. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that electrical safety is never compromised – no matter the situation.