Controlling electrical hazards is essential in maintaining safety in the workplace. Doing so after a storm or flood is vital as usual safety mechanisms may have been compromised. Overturned trees,downed power lines and wet cables all pose a significant risk to workplace and staff safety.
Read on for expert advice on how to mitigate these risks and protect your business from electrical hazards and safety risks.
Preparing for Protection Against Electrical Hazards and Safety Risks
It’s not always possible to plan for the weather, but thanks to modern technology you’ll often have a fair idea of when a severe storm or downpour is headed your way. If you feel as though your property may be in danger you need to:
- Check your safety switches are working
- Make sure you know where the water, gas and power switches are, so they can be quickly shut off in an emergency
- Pack away any unused electrical equipment, and store it away from any possible danger
- Turn off and unplug all electrical equipment as the storm is approaching
- Make sure all loose items, and anything that could be moved by wind, has either been packed away or secured
- If your business is surrounded by trees, try and trim off any loose branches, and get a professional to remove any large, dead limbs. A professional can also help you in clearing trees away from power lines
- Check that all gutters and piping are clear, and leaks have been patched so your property can cope with rain
Avoiding Electrical Hazards and Safety Risks During a Storm
The most important thing to do during a flood or storm is to stay connected and abreast of conditions. You can do this by tuning into your local radio station or via your mobile phone. Don’t use a landline or computer during a storm as there is a slight chance of electrical shock.
If at any point you lose power, you should switch off and unplug all electrical equipment. If you notice even the slightest bit of flooding, it’s best to be safe and move as much as you can to higher ground.
If you have to drive anywhere, make sure you check for any road closures before you leave. Never try and drive through flood water and stay away from any trees or power lines.
The work you do after the storm or flood is what will dictate how safe your workplace is, and how quickly you can get back to full productivity. The clean-up process should include:
- Remaining aware of warning and advice pertaining to weather conditions
- Looking out for any fallen power lines near your property, and ensuring they have been reported and dealt with by local emergency services or an electricity distribution entity
- Check the exterior and interior of your property for any cables, light, signs, insulation or conductive materials that have been subject to damage or flooding
- Contact your electricity provider to come and reconnect power if yours was lost during the event
- Never touch a damaged switchboard, if you feel as though the switchboard has been compromised, you should call a professional to have it assessed and repaired. In fact, it’s always a good idea to get a safety check done after a serious flood or storm
- If your property is fitted with solar power, stay off the roof unless absolutely necessary. If you have to get on the roof, stay well clear of any panels and cables
- Stay away from flood water until the area is declared safe
Electrical Appliances, Equipment and Generators
You need to take care when using these items following a flood or storm as they all pose a potential electrical hazard. Follow these precautions:
- All water-affected appliances and equipment should be disposed of, or repaired by a licensed electrical contractor
- Always call out a licensed technician to perform a test and tag on all portable and safety switches. This should be done before power is reconnected
Generators are useful following a storm or power outage, but they need to be managed responsibly:
- The generator must be connected to your electrical wiring via a generator change-over switch or socket, this can only be installed by a licensed electrician. If you use a regular power point, it can create dangerous ‘back feeding’
- All connective leads must be in perfect working order
- Only use power boards that are fitted with an overload cut-out switch and an RCD
- Only run the generator outdoors, in a well-ventilated area
- Each unit will have a load rating, make sure you adhere to this rating