Electrocution incidents can be fatal, while non-fatal shocks can result in serious and permanent burn injuries to skin, internal tissues and damage. Electrical safety is not just the domain of trained and qualified electricians. It is the responsibility of all workers.
Most injuries in the Comcare scheme are the result of using faulty equipment, such as frayed electrical cords, faulty plugs or damaged equipment, non-tested personal and company-owned equipment or poor electrical awareness and practices.
- Inspect appliances before use.
- Turn off the power before unplugging devices.
- Remove faulty appliances.
- Electric shocks
- Potential fatality
Identified hazards and controls
Electric shock, fire or burns
- Faulty electrical equipment.
- Arcing from pulling live cables from active power points.
- Touching exposed electrical wires.
What workers can do
- Make sure you have the correct plugs. In Australia we use 240v with a three-pin plug.
- Do not grip the cord—always grip the plug when removing it from the wall socket.
Electrical cables and extension leads
- When it comes to electrical cables, ensure you have the correct plug for each power supply.
- Visually inspect cables for any damage or discoloration—run your fingers over the cable while it is unplugged to detect any small cuts or damage.
- Report any electrical equipment that is worn or damaged and do not use.
- Unwind the cord—power leads and extension cords need to be fully unwound to prevent overheating especially if the appliance draws a high current.
- Avoid overloading—do not overload by piggybacking too many double adaptors or power boards.
- Electrical appliances use different levels of power - a sticker on the appliance will tell you how much. If using multiple appliances, never exceed 10 amps or 2400 watts. Anything over this will blow a fuse or start a fire.
- Do not plug a cable into live power points—turn the power off first.
- Don’t touch an electrical appliance with wet hands.
- Conduct regular visual inspections to identify obvious damage, wear or other conditions that might make electrical equipment unsafe. Many electrical defects are detectable by visual inspection.
What employers can do
- A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage risks to health and safety, including those associated with electrical risks at the workplace, as per regulation 147 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (WHS Regulations).
- Identify any unsafe electrical equipment at the workplace and take appropriate action, as per section 149 of the WHS Regulations.
- Inspect and test electrical appliances, as per section 150 of the WHS Regulations.
- Where equipment is identified for repair, it should be immediately removed from service and appropriately labelled to prevent further use.
- Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 – Refer to part 3.1 Managing risks to health and safety and part 3.2, division 2 General working environment.