Avoiding ‘shocking’ situations while working with electricity
May 31, 2023
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), over 1,000 electricity-related accidents in the workplace are reported every year. As we know, any job which requires working with electricity has the potential to pose a threat to health and safety and should always be approached with caution. Mark Robson, Product Manager at WernerCo, shares his expertise on key equipment considerations and the benefits of fibreglass ladders as a safe choice for electricians.
Professionals who equip themselves with the adequate equipment should be prepared for any job, and enable themselves to carry it out as safely as possible. However, each year in the UK, professionals across the electrical industry are putting themselves at risk of shocks from ladders that are made from materials not designed to withstand electrical currents. While this may seem like an obvious consideration, it remains imperative that the risks of working with electricity are not overlooked, and that professionals are investing in equipment which will keep them safe at work.
Whilst fibreglass has many benefits, its key feature is non-conductivity. As an insulating material, which means electricity cannot pass through it, this makes it an ideal choice for those working near electricity, for undertaking electrical contracting jobs or for domestic electrical works to protect themselves from electrocution while carrying out tasks.
Although aluminium ladders are popular among tradespeople for their affordability and lightweight properties, it's important to note that aluminium and other metals conduct electricity. Consequently, selecting these ladders puts users at risk of potential electrical shocks.
Inherently strong and robust, the material is extremely resistant to weathering and does not absorb moisture, like a wooden ladder, which also makes it ideal for working in wet or damp environments. Unlike aluminium, fibreglass is also non-marking and provides high resistance to twisting or denting, which ultimately impacts the strength of the product and may compromise a user’s ability to use it safely.
Reducing the risk through best practice
When it comes to working at height, choosing the correct equipment for the job is essential. Werner’s recent campaign, Stepping up to Ladder Safety, contains a range of guides demonstrating how to choose the right ladder for the job, which professionals can review to ensure they are using the most suitable equipment for the tasks they are undertaking.
Prior to beginning any job, a risk assessment should be carried out to ensure that equipment is suitable, sturdy and fit for use. In doing these checks regularly, professionals can ensure that they spot the signs of damage and wear before they result in potential accidents occurring.
The same measures should be taken when it comes to education. As ccidents on the jobsite remain high, regular training courses should be considered to ensure consistent education about best practice is being provided. This can be done by undertaking annual refresher training or attending online seminars. In doing this, professionals can ensure that they are helping themselves to avoid accidents and injury by reinforcing long-term competence and safe behaviours.
Additional safety measures
When it comes to working with electricity, the primary safety concern for working at height equipment should be the ladder material. However, it's crucial to consider other factors as well to ensure the task is carried out safely.
Can three-point contact with the ladder be maintained at all times while in use? If not, professionals should invest in lock-in accessories, tool trays or belts to avoid carrying tools and equipment up and down in-hand. Can the ladder be positioned securely on the surface it has been placed on, so it is stable to stand on? Will the job take longer than 30 minutes, and if so, would another piece of equipment be more suitable, such as a platform?
Taking all of these factors into consideration before a job will not only ensure that the correct equipment is being used, thus reducing the risk of injury, but also enables professionals to work efficiently and save time throughout the job. By arming themselves with the correct equipment, training and up to date legislations, professionals can hopefully avoid any ‘shocking’ situations.
Werner provides a range of fibreglass ladders to suit a variety of needs. To find out more about the products available from WernerCo, visit wernerco.co.uk.
To view WernerCo's Ladder Safety Guides, visit Stepping up to Ladder Safety
T: 0121 454 9707