Being an electrician can often mean working in small, dark and potentially dangerous locations. More often than not, they are also alone while on site. Who is looking out for these workers and how do you ensure an electrician’s safety?
What are the Dangers of Being an Electrician?
Being an electrician means workers are exposed to more dangers than just live wires. The nature of the job has workers frequently alone and exposed to:
- The danger of a lethal electric shock
- Fire and explosions from electrical short circuits or frayed wiring
- UV radiation if working outside for prolonged periods or from welding machines if working in an industrial facility
- Exposure to bees and wasps nests
- Disease from bird droppings and rat droppings when working in loft spaces
- Working at height or in small confined spaces
- Violence from another person or animal
- Slips, trips or falls
- Transport accidents moving between locations
Unfortunately the outcome of these dangers can be the loss of life.
Fatality Figures for Electricians
The Census of Occupational Injuries is compiled every year by The Bureau of Labor Statistics. The table below shows the number of electrician’s deaths per year from 2003 until 2017. All of the fatalities occurred to those working in the industry, but were not all as a result of electrocution.
Thankfully not all exposure to electricity is fatal, but does still impact greatly on employees and therefore employers. Losing days of work due to electricity based injury can be very frustrating for employers. A lot of injuries often result from people not making common sense decisions or not following the risk assessments or work policies that have been put in place.
How to Increase Electricians Safety
People who frequently lone work, like electricians, need a reliable way they can communicate with their employers. They need to have a way to check in at pre-arranged times, call for help if they need it or have an alert triggered if they can’t request help themselves.
Ok Alone, the lone worker safety app allows workers to check in at set intervals (from every 10 minutes to 10 hours), it has help alerts that can be sent to request immediate assistance and GPS that is used to locate a worker if they do not respond to messages or reminders after a missed check in.
Man Down Protection
One feature of the Ok Alone system is the ‘Man Down’ function. This notifies a worker’s monitor/supervisor if there has been no movement within a set amount of time (5 minutes – 1 hour, set by the worker). If no movement is detected the phone will sound an alarm alerting the worker. If this alert is not responded to, it will be escalated to the allocated monitor and they will contact the worker. The helpful reminder/alarm sent to the worker first means there will be less false alarms sent to the monitor or the call centre.
A ‘Help Button’ sends an alert to a supervisor, manager or representative of the employer, informing them that a worker needs immediate assistance. On a smartphone the help button has options to trigger it; manually tapping the screen or using voice commands. Workers also have the option of sending a written or voice message directly to the person monitoring their situation. Ok Alone has real time GPS capabilities that can locate an electrician if they activate the ‘help’ alert.
High Risk Check In
Ok Alone includes the ‘High Risk’ function where workers can change the frequency of their check-in depending on their circumstances. The check-in can be set to every 10 minutes if required. Using this feature also alerts the worker’s company that they are entering an area where they feel more vulnerable or that has a higher potential for danger. This function allows the worker to update their company to their new situation without having to phone in. Once the shorter time elapses an alarm goes off to alert the worker. Once the worker has safely checked in the countdown timer automatically reverts to the originally set intervals.
The most important thing Ok Alone can offer is peace of mind to lone workers. They know that if something happens (a help alert is sent or a check in is missed) someone from their company or at the Live Monitoring facility will be alerted and help will be on its way.
1 – Miscellaneous CFOI data tables, All worker profile, 2003-2018 https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm#2020