Taking Your Work Home
At a recent training program, we asked the group of more than 40 electricians what incidents and/or accidents they had seen lately. Many related stories about electrical incidents, from witnessing arc flashes to a “tingling” feeling. One person mentioned that he really didn’t see many incidents or accidents at work but was concerned about the number of injuries at home. He had a good point.
If we were honest, we might admit to not always practicing safety while working at home. A typical home project might be mowing the lawn. Do you need hearing protection for that? A lawn mower is about 100 decibels while the OSHA action level is 85 decibels. If you have a large space that will take more than an hour or two, you probably should don some form of hearing protection. Or what about that “tingling” feeling that the electricians reported feeling while working? Have you ever done any installation or repair jobs at home and felt the power of electricity?
Let’s take an example of a famous (or infamous) home project of installing a ceiling fan. Here are just a few of the potential risky tasks that we thought of for this project:
- You might have to use a cutting tool to open the box.
- You will be lifting something and most likely working above your head.
- You will be working at heights, probably on a ladder (as opposed to a chair).
- You will be working with electricity.
- Cuts from opening the box.
- Back and shoulder pain from working above your head.
- A fall from the ladder.
- Electrical shock if the circuits are not properly locked out.
What could you do to protect yourself during the ceiling fan installation?
- Use a protective box cutter. Wear gloves.
- Do as much of the work on the fan as possible while it is on the ground or a table before raising it above your head. Have someone assist you by holding it during the wiring and installation process.
- Inspect the ladder to make sure it is in good working condition. Use a ladder that is tall enough for the work to be performed. Use your safe ladder techniques while on the ladder. Make sure your assistant is also safely standing on a secure ladder.
- Lock out the circuit breaker to the area where you are working. Tag or mark it then inform your family or roommates why the circuit breaker is off, so no one tries to reconnect it.
So, what’s the point of this? You should be receiving safety information at work. You hear safety rules about working at heights, climbing ladders, using proper tools, inspecting equipment, wearing PPE, staying hydrated in warm weather conditions, and on and on. This is when you should be taking your work home with you. Safe work habits should apply to working around the house as much as they apply when you are at the jobsite. You can get just as injured from a fall at your home as you could from a fall at work, or any other type of injury from any other type of unsafe act.
Safe work habits are safe work habits. You are probably only at work for eight hours a day. Much of the rest of your time is spent at home. You may like your co-workers, but you love your family and friends. Take your safe work habits home to protect yourself and your family.
2019 Calendar of classes is now on the SCM Website. Start with this link and scroll forward to find the training you need.
Heat Illness Prevention course, the HAZWOPER First Responder Operations course and the Incident Command course online! See them and register at: