Good Morning Team,
As I mentioned last week, May is National Electrical Safety Month, so named by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (EFSI) whose goal is pretty obvious. They want to reduce the numbers of electrical mishaps in the home or workplace that cause property damage, injury, and death. I thought that I would share just a little more about some of the actual electrical issues we might face and maybe clear up any confusion regarding what we should be doing.
As our Safety Manual indicates, a zero-energy state is our objective and is the preferred method of dealing with all electrical work we might routinely do. That means that changing out a broken receptacle or light switch would be done with the power off, locked, and tagged out. However, a broken outlet plate or switch cover plate might not require the same. If you were replacing a light socket or the ballast of a fluorescent light you would routinely seek to shut the power off, locking and tagging out again, but replacing the bulb of either type might not require turning off the power. Resetting a circuit breaker does not require turning off the power but replacing a circuit breaker would as it requires removing the panel cover. Typically, this would be a job for an electrician.
Fuses are another item that maintenance personnel might routinely replace. There are many styles and types and you must know what you are doing prior to attempting this task. In HVAC work, fuses might be attached to a removable block within a disconnect. When you pull the block, the fuses come out as well. Using your meter, you locate the blown fuse, replace it, and then slide the block back into the disconnect itself. Caution! It is very important to remember that unless you have turned off the power to that disconnect itself, whatever those fuses protect will immediately be energized again. This can lead to an unintended restart of the equipment being worked on.
In other cases, fuses are attached to a control board. In this instance, unless all power has been turned off to the equipment, there will still be power on one side of the clamps that hold the fuse(s) in. Simply trying to remove the blown fuse can get you shocked. Also, with the power still on, the moment the replacement fuse contacts both clamps that circuit will be energized. Like the above, this can cause whatever is being powered downstream to start up. Before replacing fuses, always make sure that the primary power is off. These examples are just a small fraction of the possibilities and scenarios we might have to deal with. To be as safe as possible, always take the following steps before doing anything electrical.
We shouldn’t be scared of electricity, without it our lives would be a lot different, but caution and common sense will make all the difference in how safe we are when we do need to work around it. Never attempt to do anything that you are not sure about. Always ask first!
Have a great week and stay safe.
Dir. of Facilities Services