One of the most important risks renewable energy installers have to take into account are those presented by working with electricity. There are no reasonable circumstances in which you should be working with live equipment and yet accidents are still happening.
With electricity still cited by the HSE as the root cause of about 1,000 accidents at work each year, and with the construction industry’s increase in fatalities, you have to ask: “How is this still happening?”
On 5th July 2021, the outcome was reported of a hearing relating to the tragic death of a contractor who was carrying out pre-planned maintenance on an air compressor when he suffered a catastrophic electric shock in December 2017.
Following the hearing, the HSE’s inspector Joanne Williams was reported as saying: “Poorly maintained electrical installations and faulty electrical appliances can kill or severely injure people, and cause damage to property.
“This was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to implement safe systems of work and identify the risks. Had the company identified the correct isolation point for the compressor and ensured that employees were sufficiently trained and supervised in the lock off procedures expected of them then this fatal incident would not have occurred.”
Wholly unavoidable incidents
To lose a loved one in any such incident is devastating enough, but to know that it was wholly avoidable is completely unforgivable. In the case of this contractor, we are talking about a professional engineer with over 30 years of experience. Furthermore, the nature of the work meant that there would have been plenty of time to make preparations ahead of a scheduled maintenance visit.
There is a tendency to dismiss electrical safety as the remit of the electrician – but the reality is that many engineers, technicians, cleaners and other workers can come into contact with electricity whilst carrying out seemingly innocuous tasks.
As an industry, we have to do everything in our power to change mindsets and create safer habits and we at Martindale will work tirelessly to ensure that our voices are heard because those who have lost their lives cannot be.
In a relentless effort to create safer working practices and protect the lives of anyone working on or near electrical infrastructure and equipment, Martindale Electric created a simplified version of their more comprehensive electrical safe working process in the hope that its memorable acronym – ‘ALIVE’ – will help to prevent electricity-related injuries and save lives.
It has also added new downloads to its ‘ALIVE’ electrical safety campaign landing page and is encouraging more ancillary trades, as well as electrical contractors, to keep themselves safe around electricity. The downloads include posters for the workplace, ‘ALIVE’ safety cards for toolboxes and a PowerPoint training slide package for all trades.
ALIVE: 5 fail-proof steps to safe isolation
- A – Approved kit
Before starting, make sure your equipment meets all legal safety standards (BS EN61243-3).
- L – Lock out
Identify the point of isolation – lock it off – and place warning tags onto the equipment.
- I – Initial prove
Test your voltage Indicator against the proving unit to make sure that it’s working properly.
- V – Voltage test
Use your voltage Indicator to confirm that there are no dangerous voltages in the circuit you are about to work on.
- E – Ensure
Prove and re-test the voltage Indicator against the proving unit to ensure it is working, before you start working on the circuit.
By making this process as straightforward as possible, our hope is that more renewable energy installers, more technicians, more hard-working people will go home safely to their families at the end of their working day. It really is as simple as that. Every life lost to such incidents is absolutely tragic. It is all of our responsibilities to prevent this from happening and we will not stop sharing this message until such fatalities are a thing of the past.
Downloadable ALIVE resources for those responsible for industrial compliance managers are available on the campaign page at the company’s website: