WorkSafe is reminding employers and workers to take electrical safety seriously.

Contact with electricity or being close to an electrical explosion can cause serious injury or death. In the construction industry 15% of fatalities are from contact with electricity, the third highest cause of death.

Between January 2019 and July 2020, there were 304 reported electrical incidents in the Victorian construction industry. Out of these, 293 were categorised as significant which resulted in medical intervention.

What is an electric shock?

An electric shock is where the current flow enters and exits the body. It is the pathway and the duration that determines the degree of damage, every electric shock causes damage, but often the damage is internal and not visible. If the contact is significant from a current flow and time prospective, there are generally visible burns at the entry and exit points.

Electrical explosions or arc blasts can also be significant events. They can generate temperatures up to thousands of degrees centigrade the closer one is to the source, the more damage is sustained.

Electricity can cause significant damage to plant, property and personnel. Therefore, it is vitally important that controls are put in place to ensure that these events do not occur.

Electrical shock safety tips

In general, don’t come into contact with electricity, or do something which causes electricity to arc.

Contact with electricity is made through:

  • Touching lives wires
  • Using damaged equipment which exposes a person to electricity, or performing an action that causes contact and subsequent damage to electrical cabling

Things to consider:

  • What actions and movements are you about to perform?
  • Which equipment are you are going to use and how will it be used?
  • What is the environment in which you are performing these activities? Have you determined if there is a risk?

Another risk is arc blast. This may occur when an action is performed with materials, typically metal, coming into contact with electricity and a subsequent explosion occurring.

To control unnecessary contact with electricity ensure that:

  • Equipment is in good condition (leads and tools should be inspected daily before use and then periodically tested) to confirm that it is still safe for intended use
  • Before cutting, drilling or excavating ,there aren’t any live cables in the ground, wall or ceiling space
  • Before operating any plant look for overhead power lines (NO GO ZONE)
  • Never work on live equipment or exposed wiring where a person can make direct contact with electricity

Mostly importantly, if in doubt, stop and ask questions. Do not proceed if there are uncontrolled risks, think safe, work safe, be safe.
Treat everything live until you have ensured it is not live.

More Information

For detailed information on how to identify and control the risk of incident, please visit worksafe.vic.gov.au/electrical-safety

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