The dangers of working as an electrician
The dangers of working as an electrician may seem obvious because of the nature of the job. However, serious injuries or deaths caused by electricity itself are actually rare. Most of the injuries sustained by electricians during their everyday work are caused by hazards within their working environment.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at the dangers of working as an electrician and the steps electricians can take to minimise the risks.
Hazards of electrical work
Electrical currents and surges
Working with electricity can be extremely dangerous, and there is always a risk of serious injury or death from shocks, electrocution and burns.
Toxic materials, gases and infections
Electricians can be exposed to toxic chemicals in lead, asbestos and solvents, as well as mould and fungi, and bacteria in bird and rodent droppings.
Falls, slips and trips
Falls and trips, or falling objects, are common causes of injury. Many electricians work on construction sites, often at height, and with a lot of people around them. This means there is a range of hazards overhead, at ground level and below the floor.
Cramped or awkward spaces
Working in confined areas for long periods of time can cause strain on the body and lead to musculoskeletal injuries. It may also mean working in close proximity to potentially dangerous elements.
Carrying out the same action again and again, or lifting heavy objects on a regular basis or in an incorrect way, can cause injuries such as back pain and joint pain.
Equipment and tools
Working with hand tools, power tools and other potentially hazardous equipment always carries a danger of injury.
Injuries associated with welding and cutting include burns, eye damage, cuts and electrical shock from the exposure to fumes and UV radiation.
Mental health risks
Mental health conditions such as stress and anxiety can be caused by many things including shift work, tight deadlines, solitary work or the heightened risk of physical harm. Read more in our blog here about mental health and wellbeing in the electrical industry.
How to minimise the dangers of working as an electrician
There is a wealth of health and safety regulations that employers must follow to keep electricians safe at work. However, there are also a number of things that individuals can do themselves to ensure they are as safe as possible while undertaking electrical work.
Training and qualifications
All electrical maintenance, installations and repairs must be carried out by a properly trained and qualified electrician, with the appropriate skills and ability for the job being undertaken. Electricians and their employers should ensure that all their training and qualifications are up to date and relevant.
Guidelines, regulations and best practice
Electricians should also remain up to date with any changes to industry guidelines, regulations and best practices. Useful guides can be found on the Electrical Safety First website.
Tools and equipment
The correct tools and equipment must always be used, and they should be fit for purpose and in good working order. Care should be taken when working with hand tools, power tools and other equipment. Suitable PPE (personal protective equipment) should always be worn when required.
Health and safety procedures
Many dangers can be avoided by taking proper safety precautions and following the correct health and safety measures and procedures. Even simple things, like using safe lifting methods or taking frequent breaks from repetitive tasks, can prevent injury. Individuals should highlight concerns to colleagues or supervisors and know how to report hazards.
Be careful and don’t take chances!
Electricians should remain constantly mindful of the dangers associated with their work and their surroundings. They should identify potential hazards before beginning a task and take measures to minimise them. This could be as basic as keeping work areas tidy and clutter-free. If something doesn’t feel safe, they should not take any chances, even if they feel pressured to get the job done because of a tight deadline or a demanding client.