From home roofing to basement remodeling, the risk of electrical fatalities cannot be ignored. Water and electricity do not make good company. And whether you are working in a wet basement or resolving issues with a leaky roof, personal safety demands that you observe all electrical safety rules.
The OSHA 2013 construction safety report marks 71 out of 828 deaths as a direct result of electrocution. Although focused on roofing safety, the following 18 electrical safety tips are good for helping anyone avoid accidental electrocution.
1) Safe Electrical Setups – Check to avoid overloaded circuits. Ensure your power tools and the local electrical outlets are properly grounded. Never use a power tool in an area where water or moisture has accumulated.
2) Electrical Roofing Tools – Never modify a plug by bending or removing components. When prongs are bent, loose or missing, replace the entire device.
3) Electric Plug Adapters – Avoid use of three-prong-to-2- prong cord adapters. System ground connections exist for your safety. By passing a ground is not a sound electrical safety practice.
4) Broken Prongs – If a plug prong breaks off into a receptacle, do not attempt to remove it. Turn off the circuit, and call a licensed electrician.
5) Receptacles – Ensure that all used receptacles are mounted securely in their boxes and do not move when the plug is inserted. A loose receptacle can cause a short circuit. Never use loose receptacles or other faulty electrical equipment until the equipment is repaired or replaced and inspected by a licensed electrician.
6) Damaged Components – Replace all damage electrical enclosures such as receptacle, switch, and junction boxes. If you are not equipped for such service work, call in a licensed electrician.
7) Extension Cords – Use extension cords only when necessary and on a short-term basis. Never install an extension cord as a substitute for permanent wiring. Also, take care that your extension cords are properly sized and rated for the use intended.
8) Stumble Hazards – Keep electrical cords and all other working materials in clearly identified areas of the work zone. Avoid putting items in high-traffic work areas. Roof replacement and stumble hazards make very bad company.
9 Frayed Cords – Don’t use appliance or extension cords that show signs of wear, such as frayed or drive sheathing or exposed wires.
10) Inspection – Visually inspect all electrical equipment before use.
11) Proper Usage – Never staple, nail, or otherwise attach an extension cord to any surface.
12) Cord Care – Always turn off tools before unplugging them. Never unplug a tool by yanking on the cord.
13) Avoid Water – Unless using a wet/dry shop vacuum or some other tool that is rated for use in wet areas, keep all electrical equipment away from any source of moisture or water.
14) GFCIs – When possible, use ground ground–fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). When working in wet, damp and moist areas, GFCIs are regulatory.
15) Receptacle Overload – Limit the use of receptacles to one appliance. If more than one appliance will be on the circuit, use an approved plug strip with a built-in circuit breaker.
16) Lighting – Use proper lighting in areas where the risk of an electrical hazard is present. Also remember to keep emergency backup lighting readily available.
17) Tools – Use only tools that have double insulated casings.
18) Safety Awareness – Make yourself aware of potential hazards before beginning your roofing project. If electrical components are in any way involved in the work, use appropriate protective equipment, including safety glasses, insulated gloves, rubber mats, etc.
Even among the most safety conscious worker, roof repair and roof installationcan result in accidental injury. Increase your odds for a safe workday. Applying these 18 electrical safety tips may not fully prevent electrical fatalities, but they make a strong defense.