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5 Safe Habits to Practice when Working with Electrical Supplies

More than one in every six construction-related deaths is a result of contact with electricity. Clearly, your first mistake involving electricity could be your last. Electricians are not the only workers at risk. Anyone who uses extension cords, ladders, or power tools must remain diligent, exercise caution, and use proper safety equipment to avoid electrical hazards:
  • Electrocution
  • Fire
  • Explosion
  • Burns
  • Shocks that cause falls
  • Shocks that cause heart arrhythmia.

Proper attention to these five areas can mitigate the dangers electricity presents on construction sites:

1. Personal Protection Equipment

Electricians qualified to work on hot circuits must always use properly rated safety gear and insulated tools to guard against both direct contact and arc flashes. This includes insulated gloves that are free of tears, chemical or friction wear, and embedded foreign materials such as glass or wire. Inspect the gloves before every use. Arc flash prevention literally requires head-to-toe protection, starting with Class B hardhats to guard against high-voltage shock and burns, and ending with safety-toe shoes that are non-conductive to block the wearer’s body from completing a dangerous electrical circuit. In between, qualified electrical workers should be clad in arc flash visors, clothing with the appropriate Arc Thermal Performance Value. Of course, all fall-protection and other safety gear should be free of exposed metal parts.

2. Lockout/Tagout

In most cases, electricians work around wiring and circuits only when the power is off. Because energizing a circuit that is being worked on could prove fatal, electrical workers use a stringent lockout/tagout system to prevent accidental or careless activation of system. All workers must understand and respect the process to avoid disaster. Each qualified worker controls his or her individual lock and danger label to attach to cords, switches, disconnects, and breakers. Never tamper with or remove these items, and do not attempt to power the circuit.

3. Tools, Cords, and Lights

Tools and lights – especially those used with extension cords – present multiple hazards on construction sites. It is crucial that all workers use only industrial-rated equipment. Household extension cords simply cannot withstand the wear and tear of construction use.

Only grounded, three-wire cords should be used, and the ground wire should never be removed to allow them to fit a two-wire female plug. Tool owners and company safety officers should inspect extension cords and cords attached to power tools every quarter. Users are advised to check their equipment before every use. Look for damaged insulation, bent or missing pins, and loose connections. If there is a problem, do not use the tool, and do not attempt to repair it. Tag it for repair or disposal.

4. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters can alert workers of unsafe tools by tripping as soon as a faulty device is plugged in. Always use GFCI to guard against ground faults, the most common form of electrical shock hazard, as well as overheating, fire, and insulation deterioration. If a permanent GFCI outlet is not conveniently available in a work area, employers are required to supply portable units. They may plug directly into existing non-GFCI outlets, or use a plug with a cord attached. Waterproof models, with appropriate housings must be used when conditions warrant. Other units attach to extension cords, guarding against faults originating in both the cord and any equipment plugged into it.

GFCI can literally be lifesavers when a power tool’s grounding path incurs a break. They initiate an electrical shutoff when they detect a problem. But like most safety equipment, they only work when properly maintained, tested, and used on the jobsite:
  • Ensure GFCI units are free of grease, dirt, paint, and other contaminants
  • Install them upstream of all 110- and 125-volt receptacles using the same circuit
  • Test them before every use

5. Conductive Materials

Being aware of the existence, position, and precautions to take when working around sources of electricity, power tools, temporary lighting, and other electrical hazards on the construction site can ensure you and your workmates go home safe each night.
Look up when moving metal ladders, adjusting cranes, or extending tools or metal construction materials from scaffolding or man baskets. Overhead power lines are unforgiving, and without proper care and awareness can lurk unseen.

Look down when beginning work on the ground. Underground power lines can become exposed in trenching or excavating. Temporary wiring can snake underfoot, presenting shock and tripping hazards. And standing water can make workers more susceptible to electrical current.

Look around for metal panels, pipes, and other common construction materials that can easily become energized if extreme caution is not taken to keep them from contacting an electrical conductor. By touching these hot components, a worker’s body completes a potentially deadly circuit.


Construction site electrical hazards can be controlled with training, awareness, and precautionary measures. Power Bolt and Tool has all of the construction safety and electric supplies you need when working with electricity in Orlando and Fort Myers, Florida. Call us toll-free at 1-844-673-6743 for more information.
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