4 easy methods to improve an electrical safety program

Maintaining a valuable safety culture, training, annual audits and investing in safety measures help enhance an electrical safety program.

By Nick Schiltz September 12, 2022
Courtesy: CFE Media and Technology

Electrical Safety Insights

  • By maintaining a valuable safety culture, training, have annual audits and investing in safety measures, an electrical safety program can enable a safe workplace for employees and mitigate unnecessary risks that could lead to serious injuries from electrical arcs or shocks.
  • Continuing to evolve electrical safety programs leads to better best practices, which may take more time, but it can protect employees better than an outdated system that may be easier or quicker to implement.

Employees may be required to maintain or participate in an electrical safety program within their organization. Whether someone is new to the program or a seasoned veteran, the times change along with innovation and ingenuity. These factors provide a tremendous opportunity to enhance a program. Here are four easy methods to ensure an employee is maintaining or participating in a high-performance electrical safety program.

1. Maintain a valuable safety culture with a electrical safety program

What happens in a relaxed and passive electrical safety program is complacency. Without proper maintenance and guidance, this is inevitable. Complacency is a management system problem and therefore, management must step up to manage it. To avoid complacency, managers must ensure a robust culture of safety within their organization.

This is established by who is hired, who is fired, who is promoted, and how the organization manages the safety process. Is safety a value to an organization or an obligation? Cultivating an effective safety culture starts with this question. If it’s a value of the organization versus an obligation, safety becomes seamless within this type of properly maintained culture.

Work and safety can’t be differentiated from one other as they are inherently integrated together. The core value of safety within an organization should be obvious from the first-line supervisor all the way up to the CEO. If a company is just following rules and regulations out of obligation, it may be a management problem that needs to have light shed in the dark places. Once these blind spots are revealed and a company places a tremendous value on its safety culture, the employees will be among the best and safest in the industry.

2. Continuously train and communicate

For some, safety culture may simply mean whether or not an organization follows the rules and regulations. The type of culture we’re talking about depends on how well they train and communicate, not whether or not they do not at all.

When it comes to OSHA and Lockout/Tagout (LOTO), the code recognizes two categories of people that need training: Authorized & Affected Employees. Under the training mandated to companies by OSHA, “Each authorized employee shall receive training in the recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources, the type and magnitude of the energy available in the workplace, and the methods and means necessary for energy isolation and control. Each affected employee shall be instructed in the purpose and use of the energy control procedure.”

While OSHA requires that all authorized and affected employees receive periodic training, the implemented training program at any organization can be customized to meet precise needs. However, companies training their employees to meet the minimum compliance standards does not result in achieving maximum safety and productivity. This impact is only achieved by going beyond what someone is obligated to do and continuously looking for new and more effective methods to protect people.

3. Perform thorough annual audits

A company has outlined and defined the procedure, trained and retrained employees, and equipped them with what they need to get the job done safely and efficiently. But it doesn’t end there. Not only do employees come and go, but so does equipment and the skillsets of the employee if the task is not performed on a regular basis. Annual auditing is a key component of maintaining the LOTO program with the highest regard for safety and productivity.

Periodic inspections/audits will help companies maintain the established procedures to minimize risk along with maintaining compliance and ultimately protecting the investment of the safety program. The purpose of an annual audit is to verify all required procedures are in place, accurate, effective, and optimized to the ideal lockout process. Inspecting each employee on the proper lockout process and retraining employees is vital in order to achieve effective execution of the program.

Once periodic inspections and audits are in place, a company has to know what type of maintenance strategy they want to deploy. When it comes to value versus obligation, a company that greatly values its safety culture and program should have an asset list that defines the maintenance strategy by safety and criticality of service, including what specific tests wanted to perform on a regular basis.

4. Invest in safety measures that go beyond compliance

Electrical safety goes beyond legislation and compliance. An environment that is highly productive and efficient is a culture where employees are safe, secure and cared for. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a safe and healthy workplace not only protects workers from injury and illness, but can also lower injury/illness costs, reduce absenteeism and turnover, increases productivity and quality, and raise employee morale. OSHA’s Office of Regulatory Analysis states that “for every $1 invested in safety and health programs, companies can expect a return of $4-$6 dollars.” In other words, safety is not just good practice; it’s good for business.

Grace Technologies is a CFE Content Partner.

Original content can be found at Grace Technologies.

Author Bio: Nick Schiltz is a copywriter for Grace Technologies located in Davenport, Iowa. The company specializes in electrical safety products and predictive maintenance solutions. During his five years at Grace, Schiltz has published more than 250 blog posts ranging in topics from electrical safety best practices to the future impact of the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in the industrial space.