1. Underestimating the dangers of lower voltage levels
“It’s only 120 volts (or 208 or 480).” The only difference between low and high voltage is how fast it can kill you. High voltage kills instantly; low voltage may take a while longer. A 120 volt shock, for example, can lead to death up to 48 hours after the initial exposure. Take appropriate safety precautions.
2. Not wearing PPE during troubleshooting
Many people understandably don’t like wearing rubber insulating gloves or arc flash personal protection equipment (PPE), especially during troubleshooting. PPE can be hot, uncomfortable, restrictive, and slows the work process. But the reality is, component failure can happen at anytime. Whether from carbon build-up or eroded contact material, perfectly good breakers can fail suddenly during troubleshooting. Wearing PPE while simply opening a cabinet or making a quick measurement can mean the difference between injury and safety.
3. Using outdated or defective test equipment
Whether the leads are frayed or the readings seem strange, it could be time to replace dated test tools. Signs it’s time to let the old equipment go include:
- Unreadable faceplate.
- Can’t get the same measurement from one time to the next.
- Loose, cracked leads.
- Not safety rated for your work environment
4. Not performing required maintenance of power system equipment
Too often companies look at maintenance costs as an overhead expense and don’t regularly inspect electrical distribution equipment. Although it might be difficult to quantify the savings attributed to preventive maintenance, real costs associated with broken down equipment include:
- Unscheduled down time.
- Loss of production.
- Employee health and safety
5. Neglecting to properly inspect test instruments and leads
Before beginning the absence of voltage test, inspect the test instrument to ensure it is working properly. Inspection should include the following questions:
- Are they any obvious defects?
- Does the switch turn smoothly?
- Does the instrument have the correct CAT rating for the particular environment and equipment?
- Does the display function properly?
6.Using the wrong test tools for the job
- Make sure your test tool holds the correct CAT rating for each job you do, even if it means switching meters throughout the day.
- Don’t go for the cheapest tool on the rack. If that cheap test tool doesn’t actually have the safety features it advertised, you could end up a victim of a safety accident. Look for independent laboratory testing markings like CSA or UL.
7. Replacing original fuses with cheaper ones
Digital multimeters that meet today’s safety standards include a special high-energy fuse designed to pop before an overload hits your hand. When it’s time to replace your fuse, using a cheaper generic fuse increases your risk exposure to events such as energy spikes.
8. Working on live current without proper preparation
First, make every effort to de-energize the system. If you have to work on live current, prepare for the hazard as if your life were at stake:
- Compete the Energized Electrical Work Permit
- Establish a safe work zone and detour foot traffic.
- Verify test instruments meet requirements.
- Wear the appropriate PPE for the hazard level.
9. Failure to use the Energized Electrical Work Permit system
The Energized Electrical Work Permit (EEWP) is required in the U.S. to do energized work. Consider it as guidelines for planning the electrical work, assessing the hazard and the risk, choosing the proper PPE for the job and documenting it. The EEWP helps the qualified person plan out the work and what will be required to complete it. Given that the company could be held responsible if someone is hurt it must be made aware of any energized work to be done.
10. Multi-task while working with a live circuit
When working with live circuits, multi-tasking may increase speed and efficiency but the risk isn’t worth it. By holding the meter in one hand while testing with the other, a path could be created to ground through your heart. Put the meter where you can see it or use a meter hanger or a wireless test tool and keep both hands on the job.
For more information on Electrical Safety, see our online course available at the Fluke eLearning Center.