While the risk of electric shock and damage exists in any environment, it’s particularly high
in the building and construction sector. It’s essential for construction site supervisors,
contractors and workers to be aware of potential hazards while working with electrical
construction materials, along with the best ways to prevent them.
Here’s what to do before starting construction:
1. Understand the Dangers – On-site risk assessment can help you identify hazardous
areas as well as work practices or procedures that can cause harm to people or
equipment. Before starting work on the site, plan and implement control measures that
will help your construction team maintain electrical safety.
2. Identify Power Sources – Locate both overhead power lines and underground cables in
the vicinity of the construction site, and map out work areas and traffic paths that are at
a safe distance from them. Install signs and markers that are clearly visible at eye level to
help workers know where power lines are placed.
3. Conduct Visual Inspections – Before starting work, carefully inspect both ends of points
of attachment, since old insulation or cables could lead to electrical leaks into metal
supports, roofs and gutters. Also look for signs of underground electrical wiring before
digging, such as mounds or lumps in soil or vegetation.
4. Check Your Equipment – Make sure that all your portable electrical tools are properly
tagged, tested and undamaged. Supply power to equipment through an RCD (Residual
Current Device) or earth leakage device to reduce the risk of electrocution. Ensure that
personal protective equipment is in good working order.
5. Define Safety Clearances – To effectively maintain safe working distances from power
lines and cables, machinery operators need to be aware of the reach and height of each
piece of equipment. Knowing the safety clearances for tools and machinery helps you
determine if electricity supply needs to be isolated.
On-Site Electrical Safety and Set-Up
With the proper site set-up, you can minimize on-site electrical risks:
- Supervision – Ensure that workers are properly trained and supervised while working with electrical materials or heavy equipment.
- Site Layout – Traffic routes and workplace facilities need to be planned in a manner that allows for the highest possible level of safety.
- Emergencies – Create an emergency plan with evacuation guidelines as well as contact information for emergency services in the area.
- First Aid – Easy access to suitable first aid equipment, facilities and trained first aiders or responders is essential at a construction site.
- Environment – Watch for environmental hazards that can damage equipment, such as bad weather, sunlight, dust, water, chemicals, etc.
Checking Electrical Equipment Safety
You need to make sure electrical construction materials are safe for use:
- Check all machinery and material daily, especially if you have new equipment on site.
- Make sure that every piece of equipment is RCD-protected, tested and tagged.
- Inspect all electrical materials and tools for visible signs of damage or deterioration.
- Disconnect any faulty or damaged materials right away, and clearly label them as unsafe.
- Ensure that repairs and modifications are only conducted by qualified personnel.
Arranging Electricity Supply on Small Construction Sites
Small construction sites receive electricity through temporary or permanent connections:
- On construction sites with no power connection, a temporary supply switchboard or ‘builder’s temporary’ may be used to provide electrical supply.
- Permanent connections can also be supplied by an electrician through the mains supply for the construction site, especially on renovation projects.
As long as you’re careful, the risk of electrical hazards can be minimized to a great degree on any construction site, and even eliminated completely.
Jeson Pitt works with the marketing department of D&F Liquidators and regularly writes to share his knowledge while enlightening people about electrical products and solving their electrical dilemmas. He’s got the industry insights that you can count on along with years of experience in the field. Jeson lives in Hayward, CA and loves to explore different cuisines that the food trucks in the Bay area have to offer.