Building a culture of electrical safety is all about awareness. At EPSCO, all of our years of experience have taught us that awareness extends beyond electrical knowledge and equipment. It’s about knowing your organization’s personnel too.
When working on electrical equipment, there are only two types of team members you need to consider – Qualified workers and Unqualified workers. Unfortunately, unqualified workers are a significant source of injuries for most companies. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Training unqualified workers can yield big results for your electrical safety initiatives. With the right coaching, unqualified workers can become more aware of potential hazards and gain an understanding of electrical safety, even if they don’t directly encounter hazards in their day-to-day life.
So now you’re probably asking – What makes a worker qualified or unqualified? The NFPA 70E defines a qualified worker as someone that’s “demonstrated skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to identify and avoid the hazards involved.” While an unqualified worker is simply someone “who is not a qualified person.”
Qualified workers are designated by management. They’re the only ones in your facility authorized to work on or near exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts, and allowed to cross the 12-inch restricted approach boundary. Qualified workers should know safe work procedures, how to choose the right PPE, tools, and test gear. Plus, they should be trained in emergency techniques, like releasing shock victims who are in contact with conductors or circuit parts.
Unqualified workers don’t need training as extensive, but that doesn’t mean they’re not equally as important when it comes to fostering a culture of electrical safety in your organization. Basic training can greatly benefit unqualified workers and help them understand the kind of hazards they might be working around, or even inadvertently creating.
EPSCO’s team of safety experts has found that task-based fieldwork audits are a great method for training unqualified workers before encountering energized tasks. This means that qualified workers can train unqualified workers in a de-energized situation where they have full control, rather than a situation where they have to react in real-time and then deal with the aftermath.
But it’s important to realize that only qualified workers should do jobs that require PPE. And any unqualified worker performing tasks like LOTO, changing fuses, reclosing tripped breakers, or entering energized enclosures to reset motors or troubleshoot needs to be given clear administrative controls so they know when to stop and call in a qualified worker.
The more unqualified workers become conscious of the hazards around them, the stronger your company’s culture of electrical safety will be. With the right training, unqualified workers can up their game and even move into the qualified territory by learning proper PPE requirements and electrical construction.
To reduce hazards and join EPSCO in our goal to eliminate electrical fatalities by 2030, take a look at your team and think about the ways that you can provide powerful electrical safety training to unqualified workers.
Register for EPSCO’s safety training specifically designed for unqualified workers HERE!
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