Hands on for Safety

We live and work in an electrical industry that can be dangerous at times. We all must continue to sharpen our skills through continuous education. This education does not come from a one-size-fits-all,off-the-shelf training program. There are many approaches to training and the best program is that which meets your needs and yields results. Results come in a safer work environment and dollars to the bottom line. Electrical safety is more than just applying a product or sitting through a training class; it’s a regiment of training and procedures implemented in combination with technology that saves lives. Working smarter, utilizing what you learn and the tools available on the job, is a good way to begin to work safer.

Flex Your Membership

Training is fundamental to safety and should not be perceived as time absorbed to just earn continuing education credits; you need to absorb the material presented and use it. Learning is best achieved and will last the longest when more of your senses are utilized. Listening in a classroom or sitting behind a computer for online training should be accompanied by activities that help the material sink in. Practical application of what you learn is important. Training doesn’t end; it is ongoing.

You can leverage many resources including your IEC membership. As an IEC member, education and networking opportunities are not far away. It is up to you to flex your membership. State/local chapter meetings and this magazine are opportunities to leverage and continue your life-long education journey. Code changes, code questions, electrical topics like grounding and residential wiring, and many others are just a few of the topics you can discuss with other IEC members. Building your network with others in the trade is important for your continued success.

Trade magazines like Insights also provide good information for reference. I personally keep all of my Insights magazines, as well as other trade magazines to which I subscribe, filed away not too far from my desk. Another method I use for some periodicals is to snip key articles and file them by topic.

Tools of Safety

There are many products on the market today that can make a difference when it comes to saving life and property from the worst that electricity has to offer. Not all of these tools are products. The following are just a few examples:

Safety Plan

Your safety plan is an important product that you manufacture yourself for your own organization. Just about every presentation and training seminar I deliver has time set aside to poll the audience and talk about their safety plan. I’ve had various individuals tell me that they don’t have a safety plan because they do residential work. My response to that is a safety plan is important no matter what market or structure you work in. Put the basics of your plan in your truck to remind yourself on every job. Working de-energized should be at the top of your list.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is not limited to those big, heavy suits that protect you from arc flash. PPE also includes eye and ear protection. We can sometimes forget about these most basic items that protect the most sensitive areas of our bodies. You may not be in front of energized equipment and may be working de-energized but you will still need your eye and ear protection. Every day we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television, radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, we hear these sounds at safe levels that do not affect our hearing. However, when we are exposed to harmful noise — sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a long time — sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged causing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). These sensitive structures, called hair cells, are small sensory cells that convert sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back. So h