Safety is critical in every industry, but not many sectors carry the risks that electrical workers face each and every day. Fortunately, incidents have been trending down over the last few years, with the Electrical Regulatory Authority Council’s data showing that the number of deaths per million people has decreased from 1.79 to 0.50 since the year 2000. Maintaining this trend is a matter of continuing to focus on safety within the industry, and ensuring that every worker who steps onto a job site is equipped with the necessary training and equipment.
Here at NECA Education & Careers, we understand how important safety is to our industry, which is why we offer a range of training courses that help everybody from apprentices to experienced contractors stay as safe as possible. A huge part of this is knowing the risks of the electrical trade – not just for workers, but businesses as well.
The majority of accidents involve the installation of electrical infrastructure.
Why safety matters in the electrical sector
Working with electricity always carries a small amount of risk, but what many new apprentices don’t understand are the various ways that this danger can be increased. Working at heights and in confined spaces are just a couple of examples, and underline the need for comprehensive training before setting foot on an unfamiliar site. Failing to appreciate these dangers carries the risk of serious physical harm or even death.
While the overall numbers of electricity-related accidents have been decreasing, tragic incidents are still occurring, with 142 workers dying as a result of contact with electricity between 2003 and 2015, according to Safe Work Australia. The majority of these accidents (87 per cent) involved the installation of electrical infrastructure.
The consequences go far beyond the impacts on individual workers, although loss of life is obviously the most serious and distressing outcome. Electrical accidents can also be damaging to employers and businesses. The often-severe financial repercussions can include lost wages, as well as damages and compensation. Not only will a business lose money as a result of an incident, there is likely to be significant damage to its reputation. In turn, this could have a run-on effect on future business, or the ability to recruit employees and expand.
All of these dangers are well known, but they do sometimes get pushed aside because of the fast-paced nature of electrical work. This is especially true with newer workers, who may find themselves rushing and not paying enough attention to their own safety. To make sure this doesn’t happen, safety training is absolutely critical.
Safety training for electricians
First and foremost, before stepping onto a job site an electrical worker needs to fully understand the risks and know what best practices are required for minimising them. This is an integral part of training and should occur before an apprenticeship, as part of a pre-apprenticeship program. During this program, students will also receive their construction induction card, qualifying them to work in higher-risk areas after having completed the necessary training.
Training should occur before an apprenticeship, as part of a pre-apprenticeship program.
Of course, training doesn’t end after induction, and there’s much more to learn before any electrician can say they truly understand all of the different dangers that they may come across. Many of these, such as asbestos, may not be encountered regularly, but it’s critical to be prepared just in case. This will ensure that electricians are prepared for any eventuality every time they arrive at work.
Supervision is also critical to workplace safety. Having an extra person keeping a watchful eye on things is one of the best ways to minimise risk, particularly when inexperienced electricians are involved. This is a big part of what makes an apprenticeship so valuable. Not only will those new to the industry get a chance to learn from experienced contractors, they’ll also be able to work under the supervision of somebody who knows exactly what’s required on each and every job site.
For more information on safety training or completing an apprenticeship, contact NECA Education & Careers today.