The flow of electricity is different at different points. Thus while a normal socket outlet or a lighting point has a voltage of around 230volts, 3-phase equipments like electric motors have about 420volts. The fundamental hazard associated with working with or using these outlets and equipments is electrocution. Any body contact either between the conductor and Earth or between two conductors can result in electric shock. In fact electric shock from even as little as 25volts can be fatally dangerous under certain special conditions.
Thus the aim of all precautionary measures that need to be taken when working with or using electricity is to prevent contact between unprotected conductors especially those which are at hazardous voltages. This can be truly and effectively prevented by ensuring that:
- Electrical wirings are safe by design,
- Electrical equipments used conform to the safety regulations and
- All electrical points, gadgets and other things which enable the flow of electricity remain safe through-out its period of use.
Main hazards associated with electricity
While electrocution is definitely the most hazardous part of dealing with electricity, it also comes with other lesser dangers like:
- Shocks and burns which result from contact with live parts,
- Fire causing electrical faults,
- Explosion effected by electricity in a potentially inflammable atmosphere.
The severity of damage caused as a result of an electric shock however, depends on the following factors:
- The level of damage causing voltage,
- The resistance of the body to the flow of electricity,
- The path taken by the electricity through a body and
- The length of time for which a person undergoes electric shock.
Since the human body is a very good conductor of electricity, a person would be unable to remove himself from the source of electricity when undergoing and electrical shock. In fact any person who comes in contact with the person too undergoes the same amount of shock. Thus the process involved when someone sees a person undergoing an electrical shock is:
- To cut-off the source of electricity using an object made of material which is a non conductor and
- Then the person receiving electrical shock should be removed and immediately taken to the doctor.
Basic home safety rules that need to be followed
At homes kids are most vulnerable to electrical shock since they are yet to understand the implications of the same. Thus safety rules to be adopted at homes are generally kid-specific like:
- Staying away from electrical outlets, broken power lines, metal transformer boxes and electrical poles,
- Keeping metal object away from electrical sources and gadgets,
- Not using water where electrical gadgets are being operated or there is an electrical outlet nearby,
- Never pulling an electrical plug out of its socket by its cord,
- Securing unused wall outlets,
- Extension cords when used, should be kept in a safe place,
- Obeying warnings related to the use of electricity etc.
Common hazards when working and their safety measures
Electricians who work with electricity are even more at a risk from electrocution than other people. Some of the hazards which they commonly face in their day to day work are:
Overhead wires:These power lines facilitate the flow of very high-voltage of electricity and cause severe burns and even fatal electrocution. Thus it is important for workers to:
- Maintain a distance of atleast 10feet from them,
- Store nothing under the power lines,
- Put up safety barriers and educating people about the dangers involved in crossing the same.
Damaged equipments and tools: Using damaged or faulty instruments is always a risky proposition especially if there are cuts, cracks or other abrasions on the power cables, cords and wires. These damaged equipments should also be repaired by a qualified person and no experimentations conducted on it.
Inadequate wiring or overloaded circuits: These generally lead to fires from overheating should be corrected using:
- Heavy duty cables,
- Reducing workload and
- Using circuit breakers.
Improper grounding: This can result in unwanted voltage leading to electrocution. Thus care should be taken to ensure proper grounding is enables and the pin responsible for ensuring the return of unwanted voltage to the ground should never be taken out.
Wet conditions: Water tends to increase the risk of electrocution and should therefore be avoided at all costs when working with electricity.
Damaged insulation: A constant watch needs to be kept out for these since they are known to give electrical shocks to anyone coming in contact with it. Thus a damaged insulation should be immediately rectified after turning off all power sources.
The utility of electricity is matched by its hazards and hence extreme care should be taken when working with the same so that valuable lives can be saved.