Don't Be Afrayed
A frayed 2 wire electrical cord is extremely dangerous; shocking when you become the ground and dead if it crosses your heart. Don't attempt to repair a frayed cord, replacement is the safer solution.
Sanity and You
Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This is no excuse not to double check everything (voltage, grounds, lockout tags, etc.) before working on electrical equipment. There’s nothing insane about safety!
Odds vs Reality
When it comes to electrical power, saying you're 99% sure it's safe is the same as saying you're 1% sure it'll kill you. Odds vs. Reality. Choose Reality!
Know Safety? No Injury.
No Safety? Know Injury.
- Author Unknown
The Ring of Fire
There's a reason gold and silver contacts are popular in both the electric and electronic worlds, and it isn't just because they are fashionable. Metal jewelry such as rings and necklaces provide a great connection between an electrical source and your body. Remember to remove all jewelry before doing any work near electricity.
Thinking Doesn't Hurt
Trust us, it's a much simpler task to ask, "Should I really be touching this?" than it is to drive yourself to the emergency room with one arm. Just remember this, think smart, think safety.
Why do horrible accidents occur during such routine electrical activities? Familiarity breeds carelessness! When a dangerous activity becomes routine, there is a very real risk that confidence will allow corners to be cut. "It's safe because I've done it a million times." A common human fallacy and a great way to get an instant electrical tan, singe off that pesky body hair, or perhaps just remove your eyes or pulse. Remember the Familiarity Fallacy.
Unsure is unsafe in the electrical world. When doubtful of the safest way to perform an electrical task, stop dead in your tracks before you become dead in your tracks.
What "You Know" May Hurt Me
MIDWEST calls this the "I Know, Safety Fallacy." It goes something like "I know it's safe, therefor it must be safe." This false belief, especially in the hands of authority, can be extremely dangerous. We see the biggest electrical safety mistakes made when someone knows it's safe, so some safety procedures can be skipped. Classic "I know" tragedy lines include, "I know it's turned off..." "I know it's not high voltage..." "I know I can do it hot..." "I know that's the right switch..." "I know it's safe..."
Shock and a Beer
It may come as a surprise to some, but fatigue and worry can be more dangerous than a shot and beer. Alcohol will wear off over time, fatigue and worry can only get worse. The days where a maintenance electrician could have a couple of beers at lunch are over. Now MIDWEST sees electricians fatigued, just plain worn out. trying to keep production going with fewer people. Add the worry of job security on top of that and these distractions can become quite deadly. Consider the veteran electrician who was 'shocked' to learn he forgot to turn off power to a 480 volt machine before troubleshooting. When asked about the accident he replied that he was "just so tired." He was lucky nobody got hurt.
The Benefits of Redundancy
Most people wouldn't consider having the word "Redundancy" associated with their job as a good thing, but when it comes safety nothing could be better. MIDWEST strongly encourages redundancy among its employees when in the workplace. Why only check once when it will only take a few moments extra to double or triple check? You only need to catch one mistake in a lifetime to see the benefits of redundancy.
When checking electrical equipment for voltage, have only one point of contact. Do not touch anything else. Do not lean against, sit on, kneel on, hold on to anything else. Only your leather shoes should be touching anything else. Electricity needs a path into your body and a second path out of your body. If it can’t get out, it won’t go in. This is the difference between a little tingle, a warning, and a deadly shock.
Shocking news, isn’t it!
More Life Insurance is Not a Safety Program
Some of MIDWEST's scariest requests come from home owners working in their main panel. When they take off the cover and then ask us for a replacement main circuit breaker or how to replace it themselves, we tell them the most important step is to buy more life insurance because, "Your lovely wife will look just adorable in that new sports car." Then we explain why they are in extreme danger and must call a qualified electrician or the Utility. Remember, Never ever remove the cover for an electrical panel, unless you are truly qualified.
We've all heard the stories, a stressed-out surgeon leaves a scalpel, gauze, or anything else you can imagine inside a patient. This usually causes countless complications down the road. The same thing can happen in the electrical world, with equally devastating results. All it takes is one late night out, a tight deadline for a task, or even just a momentary lapse of judgment for someone to leave a tool behind when finishing a job.
MIDWEST advises all employees to put tools away immediately after using them, and to never rest a tool on a piece of equipment, even for a moment. It only takes a ten dollar wrench, left behind, to do thousands of dollars in damage
Shocking Kitchen Sink
Huge "Safety Tip," If you're touching your kitchen sink, or any other water supply, do not touch anything else that has electrical power to it. Never hold the water faucet with one hand and reach out with the other for the light switch under the stove, or touch the toaster, can opener, blender, coffee maker, refrigerator, or hair dryer...anything electrical. The sink is a perfect ground, which is the perfect home for electricity. Just a tiny amount of electrical juice going into one hand and out the other hand, will cross your heart and break it! And then, your family's too.
The Internet Just Kills Me
Internet electrical training videos sometimes just kill me when I watch them and see all the horrible safety mistakes made by the presenters. A few minutes browsing through these videos and you find people not wearing safety glasses, wearing jewelery around electricity, not using a fused voltage detector, using a voltage detector that requires both hands across the circuit, not wearing at least a long sleeve cotton shirt around live electrical equipment, wearing latex gloves for shock protection, pointing within inches of energized electrical equipment, and sticking their faces up close to energized equipment "to see better". That is a great way to get an instant face lift from a sudden electrical arc. Yes, we "are" paranoid about electrical safety.
Stop or Die!
In the electrical power world, when an experienced electrician or engineer says "Stop!" you need to stop in your tracks. MIDWEST has seen many instances of inexperienced electrical personnel who almost killed or seriously injured themselves or others because they didn't stop instantly when instructed. Experience recognizes danger long before it may be apparent to the inexperienced. "Stop or Die!" In the electrical power world, a warning of "Stop!" means freeze. It doesn't mean "Let's talk." In electrical safety, the inexperienced must recognize the value of the experienced or they become the danger.
Now You See It...
The most common electrical safety violation we have seen over 30 years is still electricians, mechanics, engineers, or anyone not wearing or temporarily removing their safety glasses. Just for a moment so they can read something. Never, ever remove your safety glasses around electrical equipment. Not to read that number or to see where that wire goes, Never! A sudden small electrical blast and you're blind, blind forever and that's a long time.
Making Gravity Your Friend
When working on electrical equipment, always position yourself so you fall away from the equipment. If something goes wrong, you do not want a shock or arc to cause you to fall into any exposed wiring or bus. This simple work practice has saved many lives and prevented a lot of pain and misery. Make gravity your friend.
Looking Down the Barrel of a Loaded Gun
Would you look down the barrel of a loaded gun? Never! The thought is too repulsive. You couldn't force yourself because you know what could happen. Sometimes electrical dangers may be just as lethal, but not so obvious. The work may be unusual, an emergency, or maybe there are just no apparent safe work practices to follow. Then how do you make decisions?
MIDWEST recommends thinking, "What are the possible consequences?" Not the probability. If you think in terms of probability you may be looking down the barrel of that loaded gun, thinking, "What's the chance..." Bang! Buy a plot and send flowers.
OSHA forbids activity that could seriously injure or kill. Think consequences, not probability.
Removing Load As Part of a Plant Shutdown
The first step in a plant shutdown procedure is to remove all possible
load before opening the main disconnect switch. As a routine procedure
it can easily lull the responsible party into a false sense of
confidence that all possible load has been isolated. Perhaps new
equipment added to the system has not been taken into account or
equipment operating at a remote location has been overlooked. It is
important, in the beat to de-energize, to step back and take a moment
to review the plant power distribution system one more time before
Stop, Look, Listen. See what is happening in your work area. Is there anything which appears to be a potential safety hazard which sends up a red flag? A ladder stationed in a blind corner. An extension cord placed in a dangerous position. Water laying on the floor. Stay alert. But keep in mind there is no list of potential safety hazards which can substitute for heads up situational awareness.
Workers not wearing arc flash protection should keep a safe distance from the grounding termination location. The safe distance is determined not just by voltage, but now also by the size of the possible arc blast At MIDWEST workers not suited up and not directly involved in the grounding out procedure remain out of the area until grounds have been safely installed.