Understanding the Flow: Electrical Safety from the ground up
Industries and factories in which the workers handle electrical equipment must take special care to make sure that the conditions the workers function in are safe. Electrical accidents are one of the major reasons for on-site deaths of workers. Strict guidelines are laid down for the maintenance of equipment and teaching the staff how to use the equipment. In essence, they mandate that work on electrical equipment must be performed in a manner that does not expose the worker to undue risk of injury. Understanding how electrical safety works would greatly help the people to reduce the chances of an electrocution.
While most people understand that they would be electrocuted when touching a live wire or an object energized by a current, there are still some misconceptions on how this current would travel. An electrical current always tries to find its way to the ground or to another conductor to complete its circuit. However, there is always a difference at the efficiency a surface has to distribute the electricity. A difference in voltage between two conductive objects, and the addition of a third surface to bridge the gap to complete the circuit, will cause the current to flow across. If this third object happens to be a human, he or she will receive a shock as they have become a part of the circuit. This can happen if the person is in contact with:
• Both wires of an electrical circuit • One wire of an energized circuit and the ground • A metal part that accidentally becomes energized by, for example, a break in insulation
Even low voltage currents can deliver damaging injuries, some of which manifest only a few days after the incident has occurred. Symptoms such as numbness, generalized or local fatigue, muscle weakness and cognitive dysfunction are a few of the effects one might feel due to a low current shock.
While protective devices such as fuses and circuit breakers are in place to avoid a short circuit, a person can still get electrocuted by a current which is lower than the limit at which the safety mechanisms would be activated. They are used to make sure that the devices are not damaged by an overload of electricity. However, a 60 volt current is enough to kill a human being. Therefore, it is important to not depend overtly on the safety mechanisms and always be alert when handling electrical equipment.