What is common PPE used for electrical safety?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is gear or clothing used to protect the wearer from specific hazards and hazardous materials. It is the final protection system to be used when administrative and engineering controls do not reduce risk to an acceptable level. PPE does not reduce or eliminate the hazard but only protects the wearer.

Worker with PPE and rescue rod

What is Electrical PPE?

Electrical PPE is equipment that reduces exposure to electrical hazards that can cause serious injuries, burns, electric shock, or fatal incidents. Electrical PPE is worn by electrical workers who work with electrical equipment. Electrical PPE includes electricity insulated safety shoes, helmet, arc flash shirt and pant or arc coverall, arc protect gloves, earplugs, transparent goggle, and electric face shield. Electrical PPE selection, use, limitations, inspection, donning, doffing, and maintenance should be based on the guidelines and requirements of the electrical PPE program. Electrical PPE should be worn before operating any electric panels or working in live line. Electrical workers should have a qualified certificate and respective work experience to work in switchgears.

The importance of PPE

The importance of electrical PPE cannot be overstated. Electricity is a vital energy source that powers homes, offices, factories, and other industrial facilities. However, this resource can bring serious hazards—from electrical fires and burns to electrical shocks and fatalities—if not handled carefully. These dangerous incidents, in turn, can make a huge dent not only in the company’s finances but also in its reputation. For this reason, basic electrical safety is of utmost importance in any workplace that utilizes electricity as a fundamental part of its day-to-day operations. This practice allows organizations to keep workers safe, carry out business functions smoothly, and avoid accidents.

Electrical Safety Regulations

Electrical safety regulations play a pivotal role in setting the standards for a secure work environment, ensuring that organizations follow the necessary safety measures and best practices. Be sure to refer to your local authorities for the laws and guidelines applicable to your jurisdiction and industry. To help you get started, here’s a quick overview of the electrical safety regulations from agencies around the world:

  • United States – Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards for general and specific industries
  • United Kingdom – Health and Safety Executive (HSE) standards and codes of practice
  • European Union – Directive 2014/35/EU (Electrical safety: low-voltage electrical equipment)
  • Australia – Model Code of Practice: Managing electrical risks in the workplace

One key aspect of electrical safety is knowing and understanding the potential risks that come with using electricity. If not addressed, these hazards present significant threats to the workers and properties of the organization. Here is a list of 10 electrical safety hazards to keep an eye on in the workplace:

  1. Overloaded circuits
  2. Faulty wiring
  3. Exposed electrical parts
  4. Improper grounding
  5. Damaged insulation
  6. Contact with live wiring
  7. Loose connections
  8. Wet environments
  9. Overhead power lines
  10. Damaged electrical tools and equipment

Electrical safety precautions are specific control measures implemented to remove electrical hazards and mitigate the risks of electrical accidents and injuries. Here are five electrical safety tips and precautions to follow in the workplace:

  • De-energize electrical equipment before inspection, repair, or maintenance
  • Use lockout/tagout procedures to prevent accidental or unauthorized operation of electrical equipment
  • Wear appropriate electrical PPE and clothing that fits well and is in good condition
  • Use insulated tools and equipment that are suitable for the voltage level and the work being performed
  • Test for the presence and absence of voltage before touching any electrical conductor or circuit part

Electrical safety is not only a matter of compliance but also a matter of life and death. By following the electrical safety regulations, guidelines, and best practices, you can ensure a safe and productive work environment for yourself and your co-workers. Remember, electrical safety starts with you.

Additional Electrical PPE Facts:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electrical injuries accounted for 5.4% of all fatal occupational injuries in the United States in 2021, with 166 deaths. The most common causes of electrical fatalities were contact with overhead power lines (39%), contact with wiring, transformers, or other electrical components (36%), and contact with electric current of machines, tools, appliances, or light fixtures (18%). Source: https://www.safetyfrenzy.com/electrical-personal-protective-equipment/
  • According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), the construction industry had the highest number of electrical fatalities (61%) and nonfatal electrical injuries (44%) among all industries in 2021. The most common occupations that suffered electrical fatalities were electricians (32%), construction laborers (17%), and roofers (9%). Source: https://www.esfi.org/workplace-safety/workplace-injury-fatality-statistics/
  • According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the use of electrical PPE can prevent or reduce the severity of electrical injuries and burns. For example, wearing flame-resistant clothing can reduce the extent of burns by 50% in case of an arc flash, and wearing insulated gloves can reduce the risk of electric shock by 80% in case of contact with live wires. Source: https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/2019-03/electrical_safety_manual.pdf
  • According to a survey by Fluke, a leading manufacturer of electrical testing tools, 79% of electrical workers said that they were the most responsible for workplace safety, followed by their employer (12%), and their supervisor (6%). However, only 29% of workers believed that most companies provided adequate electrical safety training, and 56% of workers had ideas on how to make the industry safer. Source: https://www.fluke.com/en-us/learn/blog/safety/avoid-the-shock-of-your-life
  • According to a report by Global Market Insights, the global electrical PPE market size was valued at over USD 18 billion in 2022, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 5% from 2023 to 2032. The major factors driving the market growth are the increasing demand for electrical PPE in various industries, such as construction, manufacturing, power, and oil and gas, the rising awareness of electrical safety among workers and employers, and the stringent regulations and standards for electrical safety in different countries. Source: https://www.fluke.com/en-us/learn/blog/safety/electrical-safety-stats

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