Working with electricity poses its own set of safety risks, which can include electrocution, electric shocks, burns, death, or permanent disability, as well as creating fire risk possibilities from static electricity. So, it is essential to conduct a risk assessment whenever electrical testing and commissioning work is carried out.
An electrical technician needs to ensure strict planning and control measures are put in place whenever testing or commissioning transformers, generators, switchgear, lighting control systems, trunking, and UPS.
To protect workers wherever there is a risk of electrocution or static shock, antistatic workwear should be worn. The Lindstrom workwear rental service is a cost-effect solution providing high-quality antistatic trousers, antistatic jackets, and antistatic overalls to the workforce. Besides protecting the worker, our clothing is designed to avoid sparks and discharge that could cause a fire or explosion.
When electrical testing and commissioning, your personal protective equipment (PPE) should include:
- Antistatic workwear
- Eye protection
- Safety helmet
- Hi-vis clothing
- Safety footwear
- Rubber mat
- Fire extinguisher
Risk assessment basics
Before you start any testing, you should follow a basic risk assessment where you:
- Identify hazards
- Determine who might be at risk and how
- Make an evaluation of the risks and determine the best precautions
- Record your findings and implement your mitigating actions
- Review your risk assessment and make updates if necessary
Wherever there is a risk of electrocution, work should only be carried out by suitably qualified and experienced personnel competent in carrying our electrical testing. These professionals should ensure they have electric shock and resuscitation training.
Preparations for electrical testing and commissioning
Your risk management strategy should include securing the work area by cordoning it off with barricades, rope, and signage to prevent access. You should clear obstructions and ensure adequate lighting is in place before commissioning and testing work begins.
It is important to be aware of potential changes to the working conditions, and you should cease work immediately if changes occur. Where step ladders are used, you should not stand on the top three steps; instead, opt for a more stable solution such as a podium tower. If you use supporting equipment, such as podiums and scaffold towers, ensure they are erected on a level and firm surface.
You must plan and coordinate your activities, and this may involve informing other contractors and tradespeople in the area that the system will be energised. Of course, you must ensure all personnel is clear of the equipment the first time it is energised.
The risk management strategy should identify and isolate all energy sources, remove circuit breakers, and close earthing switches. Check that connections are secure and that temporary earths are removed. Determine isolation points and secure them with a lock and tag and double-check that you are about to start work on the right panel, a simple mistake that often causes electrical incidents in the workplace.
Prepare a plan of work and circuit diagram for the test and select appropriate tools, test equipment, and personal protective equipment, including your antistatic overalls. Carry out work with a minimum of two employees, with one undertaking the role of safety observer. Test all leads using testing equipment and ensure insulation is free from defects and damage.
There is more to your risk management strategy for electrical commissioning than simply avoiding touching exposed conductive parts and testing before you touch. However, creating a checklist is a best practice that all electrical technicians should employ to carry out effective risk management.