Electric Cable Health and Safety
Electricity provides a significant risk to the health and safety of people, whether it be in the home or at a place of work. With the introduction and adoption of wire-free electricity still some way off despite advances), this means that for the foreseeable future electricity will still need to be carried around by protective insulated cables. Whilst these provide suitable protection when functioning correctly and in good condition, they are vulnerable to damage which can then expose the bare wires beneath, creating the potential for electrical shocks, burns and fires.
A large number of cables are suitable only for indoor use and for relatively gentle wear and tear. However, many machines will be used outside, particularly in industries such as the construction industry, and the protection of the casing around the wires in an electrical cable may not be able to withstand the harsh conditions faced outdoors if it is not specifically designed for such an environment. This includes water from rain or wet ground, wearing against abrasive surfaces, chewed by animals such as squirrels, being run over by vehicles or walked over by feet, cut by sharp objects, damaged through bending, pulling, stretching etc and many more. It also needs to be taken into account that not only is it the cable for the particular piece of equipment that can be damaged, but also the cabling of any extension cables that are required when working outdoors.
Cables also pose a health and safety risk when they are not damaged, in the form of trip hazards which can cause people to fall and injure themselves, perhaps severely if they hit their head or break a bone when they land. A place of work such as an office often has a great deal of electrical cabling and wiring for equipment like telephones, photocopiers, vending machines, portable heaters or fans, computers etc. This makes the trip hazards posed by cables and wires a significant element of office safety and an issue to look out for when performing risk assessments.
On a construction site, overhead power cables which carry high voltage electricity can be hit by a construction site vehicle or underground cables can be struck when performing excavation work. Suitable precautions and comprehensive site surveys are essential therefore to help minimise the risk of an accident or incident occurring with electricity on a construction site.