Our personal and professional lives wouldn’t be the same without electricity. The heating, computers, water, lights and more all depend upon electricity. Electrical equipment is one of the most important parts of the workplace, but it can also be one of the largest risks if used improperly. Electrical hazards at work can account for a large percentage of accidents when equipment isn’t in working order. Some spots to watch out for are:
The office kitchen is a place of relaxation and playful banter. However, regardless of whether your office has a microwave, oven, toaster or more, the appliances can pose a major risk if not well maintained. Throughout the day, periodically check that all appliances (especially those with open heating surfaces such as hot plates or toasters) are turned off when not in use. Make sure that flammable materials, such as paper towels, aren’t stored near hot surfaces. Regular cleaning and maintenance will also prevent potential hazards from arising.
Surge protectors are great devices that we rely on for the wrong needs. While they do protect our computers and gadgets from electrical damage due to a power surge, they don’t prevent our use from overloading the electrical circuit. If the underside of your desk or the back of your server room is an octopus tangle of cords, look for different ways to arrange the plugs. Use a second surge protector if necessary. Keep everything free of dust, and consider having additional outlets installed to protect your circuits.
All too often, we plug in a device and forget about it. When was the last time you checked the plug on your floor lamp? What about for your computer monitor? Plugs that become cracked and worn pose multiple hazards – they can cause fires, shock unsuspecting workers and overload circuits. The melted plastic can create a smoky, disgusting mess that can damage carpet and nearby appliances if a fire melts them. Be sure to check all electrical cords and plugs monthly to ensure that they are in good, working condition and free of dust. Repair or replace those with cracks and tears to keep your equipment, coworkers and yourself safe.
This may seem secondary to the aforementioned issues, but poorly placed plugs and extension cords can pose many electrical hazards as well. Never run an extension cord across a walkway or heavily trafficked area – this could cause falls, damage to the cord and loss of power that could mean losing important work. Similarly, keep cords and flammable materials away from heat sources. If necessary, hire an electrician to install additional outlets where they’re needed instead of running cords all over the workplace. The cost would be small compared to potential damage and repairs in your workplace.
You depend on your electrical equipment to get the job done. The same electricity that makes this work possible can also pose many hazards in the workplace. Luckily, some common sense and vigilance can prevent damaging accidents from happening. Check all plugs regularly and look for issues before they arise to prevent accidents from happening.