Electricity plays an important role in the daily life of an office worker. Although people still seem to forget that this useful source of power that allows them to live and work can just as easily cause damage to their property, severely injure, or in the worst case scenario, kill them. While it makes sense that employees would want to make their workplace more comfortable since they spend at least thirty percent of their lives at their jobs, using products from unreliable electrical companies in the Philippines and other countries is just asking for trouble.
Almost everything that can be found in the modern office setting is powered by electricity. In addition to the many different kinds of equipment that is essential for work such as telephones, computers, printers, and fax machines, many employees like to bring into their office certain “comforts from home.” These might include things like clocks, fans, radios, desk lamps, and even appliances such as coffee machines and microwave ovens.
Compared to other industries, most office environments are considered particularly “low-risk” when it comes to electrical hazards. While this may be true, it does not necessarily mean that these hazards are any less significant. Every year, several instances of accidents are reported which involves electric shocks or burns.
If improperly used or maintained, even common electrical equipment that is used in an office presents a potential danger and can cause injuries. Even non-fatal shocks can still cause severe and permanent damage. Even small electric shocks from defective equipment from electrical companies in the Philippines can cause falls from scaffolds, ladders, and other work platforms.
An office environment can be as equally dangerous as working in engineering, for instance, if a regular assessment of risks is not carried out and control measures are not present. Here are a few things you should know about electricity in the workplace as well as a few basic measures to help reduce the risks associated with it.
Why Electricity Can Be a Workplace Hazard
Workplace accidents that can be attributed to electrical hazards have injured an average of 4,000 workers and have claimed 300 lives per year according to the Electrical Safety Foundation. The most common types of these injuries appeared to be electric burns and electric shocks which have resulted in injured workers losing an average of 13 workdays for recovery. In the United States alone, electrical accidents are one of the main causes of job-related fatalities according to the data.
The truth is, most electrical accidents, as well as the property injuries and worker injuries that stem from it, are easily preventable. Understanding electrical safety in the workplace begins with an understanding of the science of electricity.
Simply put, the human body is a good conductor of electricity. When the human body comes in direct contact with an object that is energized with electricity while also being in contact with a conductive surface of an unequal electrical potential, a circuit is completed.
A current will then flow through the body, causing pain, injuries, and sometimes even death. A current flow of just 3 milliamps, even if charged with just a low voltage, can cause an involuntary muscle reaction that can lead to secondary injuries from flying debris or falls. This can then cause burns, bruises, and bone fractures.
It goes without saying that electricity, when left unchecked, has the innate capacity to inflict debilitating damage. Here are the three basic types of burns that may happen in an electrical accident:
- Arc Burns – this is the result of being in close proximity to an accident or an explosion that triggers very high temperatures.
- Thermal Contact Burns – this is the type of surface burn that can be experienced by touching a hot surface such as an overheated conduit.
- Electrical Burns – this is the result of a high current flowing through human tissue.
Keep in mind that there is a good chance that all of these three types may happen to you in the event of an electrical accident.
Given the right environment (i.e. the presence of combustible vapors and dust, high energy electrical arcs), even a small electrical accident can lead to a fire, an explosion, massive damage to property, and even casualties.
Common Electrical Hazards in the Workplace
The workplace is filled with office equipment that run on electricity for at least 8 hours a day at the same time every day, so it’s natural that there are electrical hazards that you should always keep an eye out for. Here are the most common of said hazards:
- Electrical Arcs
It may not seem like it but electrical arcs are an extremely dangerous hazard. Worker injury due to the exposure of an electrical arc that was not expected nor should have happened has occurred far too many times.
You should always be prepared for these kinds of situations by wearing eye protection and using the correct protective clothing. Permanent eye damage and severe burns can be avoided by simply using the right personal protective equipment.
Aside from the hazards of burns due to being in the proximity of an electrical arc, many injuries can still happen by being in direct contact with overheated electrical equipment.
One useful way to find out the temperature of an electrical equipment for overheating is to use the back of your hand to check the surface. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you cannot hold the back of your hand to a surface for more than ten seconds, it may be hotter than 150 degrees.
- Electrical Fires
When it comes to an electrical equipment producing or catching on fire, removing the power from the component circuit should stop the flames from spreading in almost all cases. In electrical fires, removing the power is similar to removing the fuel.
Should an electrical fire continue to burn even after removing the power source, debris or insulation materials in the vicinity are usually also burning. Whatever the case may be, you should always extinguish any other material that might be on fire and then cool the area to prevent the re-ignition of the fire.
General Electrical Safety Tips for the Office
The electrical systems in offices are usually designed in such a way that they wouldn’t cause sudden problems—the chances of this occurring are often minimal but this doesn’t mean that safety guidelines are unnecessary.
Basic Safety Tips
- Avoid running extension cords under carpets or across doorways.
- Follow the instructions of the electrical company in the Philippines you ordered from for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
- Turn off the circuit if any switches or outlets feel warm and have them checked by an expert from an electrical company in the Philippines.
- Place desk lamps on level surfaces, use bulbs that match the recommended wattage of the lamp and put it somewhere far away from things that can burn.
- Avoid the use of “cube taps” and other devices that allow the connection of many appliances in a single outlet whenever possible.
- Avoid overloading your outlets and consider plugging only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
- Make sure that electrical outlets have plastic safety covers if they are in areas where small children can reach them.
- Repair or replace frayed and loose cords on all of your electrical devices.
Outlet Safety Tips
Also known as the receptacle, the outlet is perhaps the most commonly used yet least thought of electrical device in the office. Every tool, entertainment center component, computer, and electrical appliance is powered through one; all you have to do is to plug them in and forget.
As long as you follow some simple but important electrical safety guidelines, all of your power needs are going to be met.
- Regularly check the outlets in your office for any problems including loose connections, corrosion, reversed polarity, and overheating. Consider having an electrical inspection done by a licensed and qualified electrician in order to help the integrity of your outlets and your entire electrical system.
- Check for any discolored or hot wall plates. Do this by looking from across the room and look for a darkened area in a teardrop shape around and above the outlet. This may indicate that a dangerous buildup of heat is happening at the connections.
- Replace any broken or missing wall plates.
- Warm to the touch is acceptable, but hot is not. Shut off the circuit immediately if a switch wall plate or outlet is hot to the touch.
It is easy to get caught up when it comes to the safety awareness regarding office appliances that sometimes people tend to forget about the safety principles regarding the power cord itself.
If the power cord of an appliance is damaged, it might seem like it is in good working order but it still represents a hazard.
- Make sure that all power cords and even extension cords are in good, working condition (i.e. none should be cracked, frayed, or cut). Take the item to an authorized service center or an electrical supplier in Metro Manila if the power cord is damaged.
- Cut the power cord if you plan on disposing of the item instead because this helps to ensure that no one else in your office will pick the item up and take the hazard home with them.
- Do not attempt to splice or repair a damaged or cut cord yourself. Even if you use “electrical” tape, as it is commonly referred to, it is not rated for the heat that is generated by electricity running through the wires. The black vinyl tape will simply end up melting or burning.
- Make sure that all the electrical items in your office, including extension cords, surge suppressors, and appliances, are certified by a nationally recognized independent testing laboratory.
- Unplug appliances when not in use, not only to conserve energy, but also to reduce the chances for electric shock or fire.
- Always fully insert the plug into the outlet.
- Plugs should fit securely into an outlet so it should not require much force to fit. Never force a plug into an outlet.
- Do not remove the third prong or the ground prong of a three-prong plug to fit it into a two-prong outlet. This may result in electrical shock.
- Always turn off the appliances before connecting their power cords into outlets.
- Never staple or nail power cords into baseboards, walls, or other surfaces.
- Do not coil power cords when in use or in storage.
Extension cords are only meant to be temporary solutions, yet the vast majority of homes and even some workplaces have at least one extension cord plugged in and left in place. Continually using extension cords can lead to the rapid deterioration of the insulation material. To avoid creating a dangerous fire and shock hazard, only use quality extension cords from trusted electrical companies in the Philippines.
Aside from the safety tips that also apply to power cords, here are a few things you should keep in mind when using extension cords:
- Extension cords are not intended as permanent structural wiring; they should only be used on a temporary basis.
- Make sure that the extension cords that you do use are rated properly for their intended use whether it is outdoor or indoor. Also, the extension cord should meet or even exceed the power needs of the tool or appliance being plugged into it.
- Relying heavily on extension cords might indicate that you have too few outlets to address the needs in your office.
What to Do Should an Accident Occur
No matter how much effort you or your company puts into training, preparation, and monitoring for electrical hazards in the workplace, accidents can and will still happen. Should an accident occur, a safety routine must be implemented and followed.
The first thing to do when an electrical accident happens in the workplace is to shut down the circuit by deactivating the system from the electric panel or disconnecting the equipment from the power source. For this reason, an unimpeded access to the circuit breakers and panels should be maintained at all times to make sure that people can reach them in case of an emergency.
People should also refrain from touching the equipment or person involved in the accident unless they are trained in the procedure and only after the power has been disconnected. Clear the area of non-essential staff and call for help. Follow the appropriate precautions detailed in the safety plan of your company.
Staying Safe with Trusted Meiji Electric Equipment
The modern workplace is filled with gadgets and equipment that is reliant on electricity which is why electrical hazards exist. Having a sensible safety plan that addresses environment, operator and equipment issues, as well as quality products from an electrical company in the Philippines like Meiji Electric can reduce the hazards and lead to lower electrical accident rates.
For over 30 years, Meiji Electric has been providing the country with reliable and high-quality electrical products. They have been a renowned supplier for panel boards, circuit breakers, and many more. so when you choose Meiji, you can be sure that you are getting only the best. Click here to visit the Meiji Electric website and find out what we can offer you today!