Basic tips for your workplace
Electrical safety is a key part of workplace safety.
- Attention to safety is the first step. Always use caution around all electrical circuits and equipment.
- Know what to do in an emergency. Know how to turn off electricity.
- If you see a victim of an electrical accident, stay back if they’re still in contact with a power source. Call 911 immediately! Do not try to help unless you know the power is shut off. Otherwise, you could become a victim, too.
- Conduct an electrical safety audit:
- Safe practices in place
- Equipment in good condition
- Cords and electrical equipment in good shape
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters in place and tested monthly
- Only employees trained and qualified should work on electrical equipment
- Follow Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) regulations to prevent unexpected equipment startup during maintenance. Many workers are injured each year this way. See the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s LOTO factsheet. And use the “test before you touch” rule — equipment that you assume is de-energized may not be.
- Follow National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) 70E standards for electrical safety in the workplace. They spell out the specific fire protection equipment needed when working around exposed electrical equipment, including the fire-retardant rating of the clothes needed for your workers. These vary depending on the available fault current at your meter. Call our Business Services Team at 800-822-1077 to inquire about your available fault current.
- Follow National Electrical Code standards and local ordinances in your business.
- Be aware of arc flash hazards. An arc flash is a rapid blast of tremendous amounts of heat and light and molten metal at the point of an arcing or sparking electrical fault that can cause serious injury or death, and ignite nearby flammable materials. It’s crucial to maintain proper protection boundaries, wear personal protective equipment and follow other safe work practices as defined in the NFPA 70E standards. Arc fault circuit interrupters can help prevent fires.
- Maintain proper clearances in meter/switch gear rooms. Don’t use these rooms as storage areas. There must be a clearance of 78 inches high, 30 inches wide and 36 inches in front of electrical panels and meter bases.
- Check tools for damaged switches and faulty trigger locks.
- Don’t place extension cords across walkways or work areas if possible. If it’s unavoidable, place the cord under a cord runner, but never under carpets or furniture — that’s a fire hazard.
- Never “daisy chain” power strips or overload circuits.
- Check for electrical equipment at employee workspaces such as space heaters and lamps. Make sure the equipment isn’t overloading circuits, that it meets UL safety ratings, and that it is turned off and unplugged at night.
- Portable electric space heaters should also have automatic shut-off devices to prevent hazards if tipped.
Outdoor jobsite rules
Keep your crew safe, whether they’re digging, building, landscaping or performing routine maintenance outdoors. Here’s how to avoid dangerous, costly accidents with overhead and underground power lines:
- Call 811 before you dig to have underground utilities marked.
- Assume all power lines are energized and dangerous.
- Survey your job site daily so you are sure of the location of all utility lines and equipment.
- Look up! Keep everything — yourself, materials, ladders — at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines. With cranes, keep the crane boom and load at least 20 feet away.
- Beware of anything metal around wires. Watch out for aluminum ladders, tree pruners, metal antennas, gutters and metal irrigation pipe.
- Water and electricity don’t mix! Keep electrical equipment away from standing water.
- Use only grounded, three-pronged extension cords rated for outdoor use. Periodically examine extension cords for breaks or damaged insulation. Discard and replace if defective.
- Use a spotter whenever you’re operating or moving equipment; a co-worker should always stand watch to help you stay clear of lines.
- If you contact a power line when operating heavy equipment, stay in the driver’s seat and warn others to stay back. Move the equipment away from the line if you can do so safely. Call 911 and PGE to report the emergency.