What is an Electrical Inspection Checklist?
Electricity is necessary to run a modern workplace, but it’s also hazardous. In 2019 the U.S. Fire Administration estimated that electrical malfunctions were responsible for over 2000 office and store fires, causing over $81.000.000 in direct property damage. Not to mention over 76.000 workers were disabled and injured due to electrical shocks and burns, along with many deaths.
An electrical inspection checklist is an important tool to determine if on-site conditions meet electrical safety regulations and your employees are complying. Electrical equipment should always be subjected to quality and safety testing before it is put into service. Inadequate testing and inadequate training of the workforce can lead to serious injuries and deaths from electricity. An electrical inspection checklist is designed to help inspectors keep track of the many aspects of an electrical installation that need to be reviewed, verified, inspected, determined, or otherwise investigated for compliance.
In this article, the following points are explained:
Why You Need Electrical Safety Checklists – The Deadly Toaster
Many people have become so accustomed to electrical power that they no longer treat it with the respect it deserves. Unfortunately, once they’re jolted out of their complacency, it might already be too late.
Take this case reported by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The tragedy could have been prevented if they’d had a proper safety program. An electrical inspection checklist would have helped them cover all the potential risks.
An employee plugged in a toaster and received an electric shock. He screamed, and coworkers rushed in to find him convulsing on the wet floor. One tried to help him, only to be shocked as well. The assistant manager went to the electrical panel but didn’t know which circuit breaker to cut the power to that circuit. Emergency medical services were called, and the assistant manager decided to cut the power to all circuits. By this time, the employee had been exposed to the current for three to eight minutes.
To make matters worse, nobody knew how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Someone was called in from a neighboring property, but when emergency services finally arrived there was nothing they could do. The 18-year-old young man was declared dead on arrival at the local hospital.
How can electrical safety checklists prevent accidents like this?
Many unsafe conditions came together to create this accident:
- A ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) should have been installed in areas where an electrical circuit might be exposed to moisture. It would have cut the power automatically once the electric shock started.
- The electric panel should have been properly labeled and staff properly trained so that the circuit could have been shut off quickly.
- Someone with CPR training should have been available.
Safety standards say that CPR should be started four minutes or less after an electric shock and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) administered in eight minutes or less. An electrical inspection checklist can help you maintain standards and prevent safety violations. You can’t afford a casual approach to electricity.
An electrical shock as low as 50 milliamperes (mA) can cause serious injury or death. Amperage measures how much electricity is passing through a circuit, while voltage measures its intensity. The voltage isn’t as dangerous as the amperage. A taser emits 50,000 volts, but its amperage is between 2.1 and 3.6 mA, so it’s normally safe.
This is why it’s so vitally important to cut the current as soon as someone starts getting shocked. The longer the current passes through their body, the higher the amperage they will be exposed to. People have been killed from exposure to a current as low as 50 volts. If a person receives more than 5 mA, they might not be able to let go of the electrical equipment – and this might apply to anyone who touches them as well.
An electric shock can cause a lot of damage to the human body, from relatively minor issues such as:
- Muscle spasms
- Temporary unconsciousness
- Temporary trouble breathing
To severe issues such as:
- Major burns
- Loss of vision and/or hearing
- Brain damage
- Respiratory failure
- Heart attack
An electrical inspection checklist is an important tool to help maintain proper health and safety at the workplace. It can protect your workplace by helping you maintain proper safety procedures such as:
- Have regular electrical safety checks carried out by qualified personnel.
- Ensure that GFCIs and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are installed where necessary. An AFCI breaks the circuit when it detects loose wiring, a common cause of electrical fires.
- Make sure all electrical installations are properly installed and working correctly.
- Make sure all equipment, tools, and machines are properly grounded and insulated.
- Hire a properly licensed and certified electrician to do all electrical work.
- Train your staff on what to do if you have an electrical emergency. For instance, if you have a big company, you should have someone meet emergency personnel and conduct them to the injured person – five minutes can make the difference between life and death.
- CPR classes for your staff. There should be someone with CPR training present at all times, ideally within four minutes for everyone at the workplace.
You can also train your staff by using electrical safety checklists. They can help you teach good electrical safety habits such as:
- Don’t overload electrical outlets, for instance by using two high-wattage appliances at the same time.
- Make sure your hands are dry when they touch electrical equipment and fixtures.
- Don’t plug grounded (3-prong) cords into ungrounded outlets. Never try to defeat the grounding safety feature.
- Report the problem immediately if you smell smoke or burning plastic, or if equipment is making funny noises or emitting sparks, or is unusually hot.
- Don’t plug multiple-outlet extension cords into other multiple-outlet extension cords. Always hold the plug head to unplug equipment. Never pull the cords.
What are the penalties for electrical safety violations?
In addition to the risk of death and massive property damage, significant monetary penalties may be imposed. In the U.S. the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) can assess the following penalties (as of 2020):
- Up to $13,653 per violation
- Up to $13,653 for each day past the given abatement date that the violation isn’t fixed
- Up to $136,532 per violation for “wilful or repeated” violations
If you do get in trouble, the regular use of an OSHA electrical safety checklist can help. If you can show a good faith attempt to comply with safety standards, OSHA may knock as much as 25% off your penalties. For this, you would need a written health and safety system that covers the following:
- Proper electrical safety training
- Workplace inspection and analysis to identify safety hazards
- Ensure that proper hazard prevention and control measures are in place
- Maintain accurate, up-to-date records
- Show that you have enforced safety regulations, including how you have disciplined violators
- Show how you have maintained health and safety for younger (under 18) workers and those who don’t speak fluent English
A mobile app for electrical safety checklists
Every electrical inspection checklist can be a lifesaver. Every employer is responsible for electrical safety in his company. Not only does it affect the safety of your employees and customers, but operational efficiency is also affected by poor electrical safety and maintenance practices – not to mention the risk for breakdowns and fires.
With the help of a powerful mobile app like Lumiform, you can digitize your inspection. The features of a digitized tool give you numerous benefits that streamline your processes for audits, inspections, and maintenance:
- Go paperless and convert your existing electrical audit checklists and templates with our form builder to a digital format.
- Perform electrical inspections on the go with your mobile device, even when you’re offline. Lumiform automatically saves your inspection data when you connect to the Internet again.
- Take pictures and add them to your inspection and comment. To make your final report more insightful.
- Assign corrective actions to staff while you’re still in the app to ensure the highest level of safety for your electrical assets. Track their status via your dashboard.
- Generate professional reports immediately after your inspection is complete and automatically send them to responsible person to increase reporting transparency.
Try Lumiform for free