Electrical Safety Procedures Most Technicians Ignore

Working with electricity can be extremely dangerous if proper safety precautions are not followed. As an electrical technician, I often see colleagues ignoring certain safety protocols that significantly increase their risk of injury. In this article, I will cover some of the most common electrical safety procedures that technicians fail to follow, why they are important, and how to properly implement them.

Personal Protective Equipment

One of the most basic electrical safety measures is wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes insulated gloves, safety glasses, arc flash protective clothing, and insulated boots or shoes. However, many technicians get complacent and fail to consistently utilize the proper PPE for the job.

Insulated gloves in particular are often overlooked when working on live electrical circuits. Technicians may use their bare hands to make simple adjustments, forgetting how rapidly an error can occur. I have seen minor slip-ups result in severe hand injuries from arc flashes and electrocution. Always double check that your gloves are certified for the voltage you are working on and free of defects.

Arc flash clothing is essential when working on or near live electrical equipment. The outer layer is fire resistant and reduces burn injuries from an arc flash event. Make sure the clothing fully covers your body and is appropriate for the expected incident energy.

Safety glasses protect your eyes from electrical flash and fragments in an arc blast. Never take them off while in the live work zone.

Key Takeaways

Electrical Lockout/Tagout Procedures

One of the most violated electrical safety rules is proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures. Locking out electrically powered equipment before servicing prevents accidental re-energization. However, technicians often avoid LOTO because it takes extra time and planning.

Before working on a circuit or device, identify all energy sources and switch them off. Place your own padlock on the power switch or breaker so no one else can activate it. Then validate power is off by testing with a multimeter. Failing to do this can result in dangerous shocks or electrocution.

Be sure to follow your facility's full LOTO protocol. Notify all affected staff before taking equipment offline. Use detailed lockout tags that explain what equipment is locked, who is servicing it, and contact info. Never remove someone else's LOTO lock - this can endanger that worker if they are still servicing the circuit.

Key Takeaways

Electrical Panel and Safety Clearances

It is vital to maintain proper safety clearances around electrical panels and exposed live parts. However, cluttered workspaces sometimes result in blocked panels and tripping hazards.

Per OSHA regulations, all electrical panel doors must open fully 90 degrees. Nothing should be stored within 3 feet of the panel. This allows easy emergency access and reduces arc flash hazards.

Live electrical components must meet minimum workspace clearance requirements. For example, 600V circuits need 3 feet of clearance in front and 2 feet to the sides. Mark off clearance boundaries if possible.

Ensure passageways and exits are kept free of obstructions. Extension cords and tools cause tripping hazards. Technicians have been injured falling near energized buses and other live parts.

Key Takeaways

Planning for Arc Flash Hazards

Any time you work on or near live electrical parts, there is risk of a dangerous arc flash - an explosive blast of heat, vapor, and molten metal. However, many technicians fail to adequately plan for reducing arc flash hazards.

Refer to arc flash analysis data for the specific equipment you are servicing to understand the potential incident energy and hazards. Then select proper arc rated PPE that provides adequate protection. Identify ways to minimize the risk, such as blocking exposure with shields or de-energizing equipment.

When working in teams, identify responsibilities beforehand if an arc flash occurs. Designate assisting technicians to perform emergency shutdown, extinguish burning clothing, and summon medical aid. This rapid response can help minimize injuries. Never rush into an arc flash; assess the situation first.

Key Takeaways


Electrical technicians encounter serious hazards every day at the workplace. However, we sometimes overlook safety rules and procedures that seem inconvenient or time consuming. I have tried to outline some of the most frequently ignored electrical safety measures - wearing proper PPE, LOTO protocols, clearance requirements, and arc flash planning. Implementing these procedures is absolutely essential for preventing severe injuries and fatalities. Safety must always come first when working with electricity.