Working with industrial wiring comes with inherent risks that could prove fatal if proper precautions are not taken. As an electrician, it is critical that you understand where these dangers lurk and how to avoid them. In this article, I will outline the top 5 hidden hazards in industrial wiring and provide tips on staying safe.

Faulty or Damaged Wiring

One of the most common dangers is faulty or damaged wiring. This can occur due to:

Improper Installation

Wiring that is installed improperly can become loose or damaged over time. This increases the risk of sparks, shorts or electrocution. Always follow code requirements and manufacturer specifications when installing any new wiring. Double check connections are tight and use the right gauge wire for the amperage involved.

Wear and Tear

Industrial settings are tough on wiring. Vibration, moisture, chemicals and physical damage can degrade insulation and connections. Inspect wiring regularly for any signs of damage. Look for cracked or frayed insulation, loose connections, or overheating. Replace suspect wiring immediately.

Overloading Circuits

Adding new equipment without upsizing wiring can overload circuits. This leads to excessive heat buildup and fire hazards. Carefully calculate amperage draws for all equipment on a circuit. Compare this to the rated ampacity of the wiring and oversize wiring accordingly.

Unlabeled or Mislabeled Wiring

Working on improperly labeled wiring dramatically increases chances of electrocution or equipment damage. You may not isolate the right circuit or inadvertently open an energized wire. Every single wire should be clearly labeled at both ends. Use consistent naming conventions and wire color codes. Update labels any time wiring is modified.

Working on Live Wires

De-energizing wiring prior to servicing prevents deadly shocks. However, some maintenance must be done live. Use proper PPE when working live including insulated tools, gloves, mats and shields. Have someone ready to shut off power if needed. Work on one conductor at a time and avoid contact with others.

Unprotected Bus Bars and Terminals

Exposed bus bars and terminals in switchgear and panelboards pose electrocution risks. Loose clothing, tools or accidental contact could trigger severe shocks and burns. Install insulation or barriers to prevent contact. De-energize equipment prior to working nearby. Wear arc flash PPE in case of faults.

Failure to Ground Equipment

Ungrounded wiring allows voltage to build up. If a fault occurs, this voltage discharges through the worker's body. Always confirm equipment is grounded prior to servicing. Test for proper grounding and bonding. Where portable equipment is used, connect ground wires first and remove last.

By avoiding these five pitfalls, you can work safely with industrial wiring. Stay vigilant in your wiring inspections and maintenance. Use PPE religiously and follow safe work practices at all times. Your diligence will prevent tragic accidents and keep you alive. Let me know if you have any other safety questions!