Electrical Hazards

Electrical HazardsWhat are electrical hazards

An electrical hazard is a dangerous condition where a worker can or does make electrical contact with energized equipment or a conductor.  From that contact, the person may sustain an injury from shock, and there is a potential for the worker to receive an arc flash (electrical explosion) burn, thermal burn or blast injury.

Electricity can either be "static" or "dynamic".  Dynamic electricity is the uniform motion of electrons through condition (electric current).  Static electricity is the accumulation of charge on surfaces as a result of contact and friction with another surface.

According to the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) there were 83¹ electrocutions in Ontario from 2001 through 2010.  According to ESA, the most common cause of occupational electrocution is using an improper procedure (60%)².

What the law says

Employers need to develop and implement a written health and safety program that supports the control of electrical hazards in the workplace and follow the regulations that apply to electrical hazards in the workplace.  For example, the Construction Regulation (Ontario Regulation 213/91 Section 182) is very specific about who can work on electrical equipment e.g. an electrician certified under the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act.

Guidelines for working on or near electrical equipment and conductors are found in several documents, including:

  • Construction Regulation (Ontario Regulation 213/91)
  • Ontario Electrical Safety Code
  • Ontario Regulation 213/07 (2007)
  • Fire Code Part 4, Subsection 4.1.8 (Handling Flammable and Combustible Liquids)
  • Ontario Regulation 851, Regulation for Industrial Establishments, Section 22, Subsection 4
  • NPFA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace
  • CSA Z462 Workplace Electrical Safety
  • CSA Z460-05 Control of Hazardous Energy - Lockout and Other Methods

How having an electrical hazards program can help your business

Thirty thousand (30,000) electrical shock incidents occur every year.  Since 1998, according to the Ministry of Labour, 69 people were killed, 263 were critically injured and 844 workers received more than minor injuries as a result of exposure to electrical hazards.

Nearly half of  these incidents involved people working on electrical equipment while it was energized, including 28 workers who were killed and 255 who received serious burns from an arc flash.  Other causes of injury involved malfunctioning meters, faulty equipment and the use of equipment in close proximity to live electricity.

The most common type of work to result in an electrocution is routine work involving repair and maintenance.  Ensure lockout procedures are followed and that circuits are tested to ensure that they are de-energized.  The main dangers of electrical hazards are electrical shock and/or fire.  In the past decade, 21 per cent of electrical-related fatalities have involved workers in an electrical trade such as electricians.  However, the other 79 per cent involved workers in other occupations such as maintenance workers, millwrights, apprentices, labourers, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians, equipment operators, supervisors, and drivers.

The impact of an electrical injury or fatality can be devastating for the workers involved and crippling in terms of production downtime, legal fees and associated costs.

What you can do

Employers need to identify potential electrical hazards in the workplace, create the necessary policies and programs, provide personal protective equipment as appropriate, and provide training on how to safely work with or near electrical hazards.

¹ 2010 Ontario Electrical Safety Report , Electrical Safety Authority, p.11;
² ibid, 16

Consulting Services

General Consulting Services

General Consulting Services

Integrating health and safety into your workplace is good business.  WSPS’ consultants employ a results-based approach to health, safety and environment, focused on building self-reliance,  and enabling your organization to implement, manage and continually improve your health and safety programs.

WSPS Safety Group

WSPS Safety Group

WSPS is the largest Safety Group provider and one of the longest running sponsors in the province. With our extensive experience and proven track record, by working with us and other member firms participating firms can achieve better results, and qualify for WSIB rebates.

Training

Lockout /Tagout Safety Essentials (1/2 day)

Lockout /Tagout Safety Essentials (1/2 day)

This is a half-day (3.5 hours) instructor-led course which provides an overview of basic lockout/tagout concepts.
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$149.00

E-Courses

Electrical Hazards (English) (1 hour)

Electrical Hazards (English) (1 hour)

Basic overview of electrical hazards encountered in most workplaces.
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$49.00

Electrical Hazards (French) (1 hour)

Electrical Hazards (French) (1 hour)

Basic overview of electrical hazards encountered in most workplaces.
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$49.00

Lockout (English) (1 hour)

Lockout (English) (1 hour)

Lockout is used during operations such as maintenance, repair, cleaning and replacement of machinery, during which normal control measures may not be working, and new hazards may occur.
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$49.00

Lockout (French) (1 hour)

Lockout (French) (1 hour)

Lockout is used during operations such as maintenance, repair, cleaning and replacement of machinery, during which normal control measures may not be working, and new hazards may occur.
View Details 
$49.00

Self-paced Training

Lockout/Tagout: Self-Study Training Program

Lockout/Tagout: Self-Study Training Program

Prevent costly injuries, and other losses caused by exposure to uncontrolled energy sources
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$217.00

Lockout / Tagout: Self-Study Training Program - Additional Print Package

Lockout / Tagout: Self-Study Training Program - Additional Print Package

Additional print package for the Lockout / Tagout: Self-Study Training Program.
View Details 
$38.75

Downloads

Job Aid - Dryers and Ovens

Job Aid - Dryers and Ovens

Learn about the hazards that arise from the use of ovens and dryers in the commercial production of food products.
668 KB PDF
Job Aid - Electrical Panels and Sources

Job Aid - Electrical Panels and Sources

Electrical panels and sources can cause shocks and arc flashes, get tips, use our Job Aid to raise your awareness.
731 KB PDF
Static Electricity

Static Electricity

This guideline sets out the sources of static electricity, its hazards, control measures and applicable legislation.
693 KB pdf
Lockout

Lockout

Lockout means to physically neutralize all energies in a piece of equipment before beginning any maintenance or repair work.
269 KB pdf
Using or Maintaining a Garbage or Cardboard Compactor

Using or Maintaining a Garbage or Cardboard Compactor

Compactors can present both mechanical and electrical hazards.  They pose serious threat of injury or death, or amputation.
343 KB 

Articles

Decorating your workplace for the holidays? Follow these 12 safety tips

Decorating your workplace for the holidays? Follow these 12 safety tips

Celebrating holidays with decorations introduces a sense of fun and energy into retail outlets, restaurants, offices, and any other place where people congregate. But before you start putting up those decorations - or assign someone else to do it - WSPS consultant Andrew Moffett suggests applying the same health and safety principles here that you would apply to any new workplace activity. Here's what Moffett recommends.

Oct 06, 2015
Prevent electrical injuries: new CSA Z462 standard and one-day course

Prevent electrical injuries: new CSA Z462 standard and one-day course

If anyone in your workplace may be exposed to electrical hazards, CSA's newly revised standard Z462 - Workplace Electrical Safety can help you upgrade or set up an electrical safety program, "something many workplaces lack even though electrical incidents and injuries are often serious," says Francis Hardy, a senior safety specialist with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) and a member of the CSA Z462-15 Technical Committee.

Jan 12, 2015