By Joanna Weekes
No matter what business you operate, electrical devices are likely to play a major role in your day-to-day operations. Electrical devices your workers are likely to use include computers, lighting and electrical plant or equipment.
This means that even if your workplace is considered low-risk, e.g. an office, your workers could be at serious risk from electrical hazards.
Your workers could be at risk even if your business does not own the equipment, e.g. workers working near power lines.
If your business uses or works near electrical equipment, you’ll need to implement an electrical safety policy. In today’s Health & Safety Bulletin I’ll outline 6 key points to include in your policy and what steps you should take if an incident does occur. What should you include in your electrical safety policy?
Ensure that your electrical safety policy sets out:
- guidelines for how to use electrical equipment safely;
- procedures for reporting electrical defects;
- how frequently electrical plant and equipment is inspected and tested;
- the person responsible for ensuring that electrical equipment is inspected, tested and maintained;
- steps for isolating and tagging hazardous equipment; and
- the person responsible for maintaining records of installation, commissioning, testing and inspections.
What if your workers work near power lines?
If your business carries out work near power lines, take the following precautions:
- notify the power authority before commencing work;
- if possible, obtain written permission from the power authority;
- conduct a pre-start job meeting to assess risk;
- use a safety observer (sometimes called a ‘spotter’) to observe and warn against unsafe practice near power lines; and
- ensure that workers remain at a safe distance from power lines.
Report all electrical incidents
If an incident occurs involving an electrical hazard, you should report it to:
- the electricity supplier;
- the electricity regulator in your State or Territory; and
- the health and safety regulator in your State or Territory.
You should also report and document all electrical incidents internally.
An internal record of the incident should include:
- the date of the incident;
- the name of any victims who were injured;
- the circumstances of the incident, i.e. how and why it occurred;
- the names of anyone the incident was reported to; and
- any other relevant comments.
If an incident does occur, you should identify why it occurred and take steps to minimise the chance of it happening again, i.e. by eliminating the hazard or implementing controls to reduce the risk.
Remember, if you want access to information about electrical hazards, including downloadable checklists you can start using right away, you can find this in chapter E1 Electrical Safety of your handbook.
Health & Safety Bulletin