Electricity is rightfully regarded as one of the most significant inventions of humankind. Since its introduction, it has found applications in every aspect of the human life. In a way, it can be said that electricity has become one of the fundamental necessities of modern human life. Beginning as a costly luxury only affordable by the wealthy, it has since reached every household in the world. However, despite its many advantages over the traditional energy sources like coal and oil, it is accompanied by numerous risks and hazards to the human life.
The foremost among these potential hazards is the risk of electrocution. The linemen working on the electrical installations are at very high risk of electrocution. About the incidents of electrocution, research has demonstrated that it is the fifth primary cause of human deaths in the United States and accounted for almost 7 percent of all the deaths on the job. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 500 to a 1,000 U.S. citizens die each year due to accidental electrocution. Among these deaths, every one in four is the death of the linemen working on electrical repairs or installations, (Electrocution At Work – ProQuest).
Although electric shocks are tolerable by humans up to a certain extent, they can prove to be lethal if occurring in large amounts. High voltages cause electrocution. The contact with high voltages transform the human into an electrical circuit, and the electricity passes through her and damages the nervous system or the visceral organs. It is also accompanied by reflexes of the muscles which may cause additional injuries, such as the person may fall of the scaffold or the ladder on which she was standing.
To prevent such disastrous events from happening, it is prudent to dispel the prevailing thought that the simple electrical circuits carrying 110 volts are safe. The truth is precisely the opposite, as these circuits are extremely dangerous and cause more deaths as compared to the circuits carrying high voltages like 220 or 440 volts. The main reason behind this false perception is that these circuits are mainly used in residential and small buildings. This understanding is one of the chief reasons of electrocutions. Also, the severity of the incident may be further enhanced by the environmental factors, such as a humid atmosphere and the sweat of the individual. Another vital factor in this context is the point of contact. The damage is minimal if the electricity enters the human body from her fingers and leaves the elbow. However, if the point of entry is the same, but the point of exit is her foot, the entire body feels the brunt. Such a case may prove fatal.
Furthermore, due to this thinking, people neglect the required safety measures while working at the electrical installations or repairing them. It further worsens the situation and maximizes the flow of current through the human body.
To enhance and ensure the safety of the linemen working with electrical systems, it is imperative to consider the safety equipment and procedures. First of all, the electrical installations must be handled by the experts with the necessary authorization. Any electrical wiring that is deemed to be defective or faulty should be reported to the respective authorities. Furthermore, these faults may be handled only by the qualified workers, especially the transformers, as they contain an unusually high amount of electrical voltages. The same goes for any electrical equipment which is proved to be faulty. Such equipment should firstly be disconnected from the electrical sockets, and then the authorities should be reported, (Parise et al.).
Another aspect that should be considered in the electrical installations is to prohibit the public from passing through the area, as they might step on the wires and damage their insulations. Upon repeated stepping, the insulation may be permanently destroyed, and the risk of electrocution may be extended further to the general public. Furthermore, one of the fundamental factors in repairing or installing electrical systems is to ensure that the hands and the feet of the worker are dry.
However, in the case of electrocution, the voltage should be immediately cut off. Another strategy can be to insulate the point of contact through insulators, such as wood or plastic. Such a person should directly be provided first aid to avoid any permanent damages.
The fundamental rules to avoid facing electrocution are stated below.
- The portion of the electrical installation which is being worked on should firstly be disconnected from the rest of the system.
- The system should be prevented from any alterations. To achieve this, the mechanism of maneuvering should be locked.
- The active portions of the electrical installation should be checked for electrical tension before the work.
- The electrical circuit should be adequately earthed. It would significantly lower the risk of electrocution.
Furthermore, there is standard electrical safety equipment that is mandated by the relevant authorities. This equipment should be used by the linemen while working in electrical environments. Among this equipment are, insulated carpets, face shields, certified and adequate electrical tools and adequately insulated gloves (see figure # 1 on page 1 of the attached figures). All these safety equipment ensure the safety of the workers due to their insulated nature and hence prevent the flow of electricity through the worker’s body.
Moreover, this safety equipment also includes standard insulating shoes (see figure # 2 on page 1 of the attached figures). Other safety equipment are protective measures against falling, illuminations for the safety against electrocutions, fire prevention equipment like control panels or spraying systems (see figure # 3 on page 1 of the attached figures).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has described the safety standards for electric workers. It encourages the workers to report any violation of these criteria. OSHA’s goal is to create a safe and healthy work environment for these workers. Furthermore, the managers should also formulate prevention programs for on job injuries, (Seong and Mendeloff).
Moreover, one of the most crucial impediments to the creation of a safe environment for the electrical linemen is the lack of awareness. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that all the people involved in the electrical systems are appropriately trained and educated. They should be taught about the ways to properly handle the electrical equipment, such as the electrical wires, the electrical tools, and the electric transmission lines. Also, this education should include teaching the importance of the installation of proper signs of warnings, regular and adequate safety inspections and the establishment of the relevant safety rules and regulations. Also, the places undergoing electrical installations should be provided with active and strict security, so that no unauthorized individual may be able to enter the premises.
The previous electrical accidents should be comprehensively inspected to avoid similar behaviors in the future. Specific safety rules should also be established. However, merely formulating these regulations would serve no beneficial purpose. What is genuinely needed is their effective implementation and strategies to make people follow them. Electrical safety managers may also be employed to ensure electrical safety.
In conclusion, despite the uncountable benefits of electricity, its dangers cannot be discounted. Although humans may tolerate small voltages of electricity, exposure to high voltages may prove to be fatal. In this context, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specified specific rules and safety equipment to ensure workers safety. Therefore, it is prudent for the electrical workers to ensure compliance with these regulations to mitigate the risks of electrocution.
Electrocution At Work – ProQuest. https://search.proquest.com/openview/737998cdb4c9069f433971b16d9e4669/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=47267. Accessed 14 Feb. 2018.
Parise, G., et al. “Electrical Safety for Employee Workplaces in Europe and in the USA.” IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, vol. 41, no. 4, July 2005, pp. 1091–98. IEEE Xplore, doi:10.1109/TIA.2005.851011.
Seong, Si Kyung, and John Mendeloff. “Assessing the Accuracy of OSHA’s Projections of the Benefits of New Safety Standards.” American Journal of Industrial Medicine, vol. 45, no. 4, Apr. 2004, pp. 313–28. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1002/ajim.10362.