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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2017 there were 71 electrocution deaths and many more injuries from burns and electrical shocks.

Some of the major electrical hazards you may be exposed to on a construction jobsite include:

• Contact with overhead or buried power lines. Always assume that power lines are energized, and never touch one – the covering on overhead power lines protects them from adverse weather, but it will not protect you if touched. Working on a ladder or an aerial lift in the vicinity of a power line also puts you at risk. Even if you are not touching the line directly, you can still be electrocuted. Be careful not to let equipment approach a power line too closely.

• Improper use of extension cords. When used incorrectly or when extension cords have damaged wiring and loose connections, they can cause fires, shocks and burns, and can damage equipment. Do not use extension
cords as a replacement for permanent wiring; they are designed for temporary use. Inspect cords before each use to be sure they are in good condition and are not frayed, cracked or punctured. When in use, check if the cord is hot to the touch; if so, it’s overloaded and should be disconnected. Using one long cord instead of several shorter cords connected together can avoid overheating and a potential fire.

• Exposure to energized equipment (arc flash/ blast). An arc flash happens when electricity travels through the air from one conducting surface to another or to the ground. This can happen when circuit breakers and disconnects are opened and closed, when exposed electrical equipment is touched with a tool, or when equipment fails. If the air is rapidly heated, a powerful blast can be created. The most effective way to prevent an arc flash from energized electrical equipment is to create what is known as an “electrically safe work condition.” That means de-energize or disconnect and lock out/tag out the power source before starting any maintenance or repair work.

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