EVERETT, Wash., June 2, 2023 – According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 26 workers died from exposure to electricity in 2020 while 56 percent of workplace injuries were caused by direct exposure to electricity — injuries caused by direct contact with the power source, such as direct contact with a live electrical wire or when the victim is struck by an electrical arc.
Workplace safety is something everyone agrees is important, yet the majority of workers see an opportunity to improve electrical safety. Fluke Corporation’s fourth annual Electrical Safety Survey confirms the importance of a strong culture of safety and identifies trends on a variety of workplace safety-related topics.
Said one survey respondent: “The culture of safety needs to start from the very top and be applied in every layer of the ‘command structure.’ Fine words and spreadsheets do nothing if the actions in the field are not monitored and safety is not culturally enforced in any way.”
The survey found that sentiment about who is most responsible for safety has remained the same over the past four years — workers being ranked most responsible — yet there is a feeling among many of the respondents that organizations can be doing a better job in creating a safe work environment. Nearly 90 percent strongly agreed or agreed that organizations have an opportunity to improve electrical safety in the workplace
As one respondent from Australia put it, “Safety requirements and compliance are a lot better than they used to be, but it is still something we need to focus on to ensure improvements continue and younger tradesman embrace it.”
A higher percentage of respondents (56 percent) said they had ideas on how to make the industry a safer place to work and 41 percent provided specific ideas and feedback in the survey.
And as has been seen in previous years, the majority of respondents — 79 percent — felt they were personally most responsible for workplace safety. “Safety begins with me. I am responsible to make sure that what I am doing is safe. Having the correct tools, clothing, and area to work is up to me to use them,” said a respondent from Florida.
A worker from California adds, “I feel everyone in the chain bears responsibility for workplace safety. The essential component in my opinion is communication and implementation. Management needs to be made aware of issues and should be required to act responsibly to address these issues as they arise.”
Yet the survey also found that, year over year, the strong majority of respondents agree that electricians skip using the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) because it is inconvenient. An engineer from Idaho offers “the equipment and/or tools cannot be significantly cumbersome or they will not use it either. From my experience gloves are the most unused PPE because they hinder work.” And a worker from Florida points out that pressure to work quickly may also be why some safety steps, like PPE, are skipped: “We have to stop putting pressure on down time to allow for proper safety to happen.”