Electrical Health and Safety
Whilst electricity is essential for powering tools and equipment both in the workplace and in the home, it is also extremely dangerous and the potential risks can easily be forgotten or taken for granted because of its abundance. People are so used to simply plugging a machine into a socket, using it and then unplugging that they forget there is a serious risk of death or injury from electricity.
These hazards are both direct and indirect in nature. Directly, electricity can cause burns to body tissue, as well as respiratory failure if an organ such as the heart is damaged. Either of these situations can quickly result in death, and will depend upon conditions such as the size of the voltage and current that the body is exposed to. Electricity which flows through the body and causes conditions such as muscle spasms can cause indirect injuries for example falling from height, collapsing and hitting the head or pulling heavy objects down on top of themselves as they fall. A person who is unconscious is also vulnerable to risks such as drowning if the electric shock was caused by a leaking overhead pipe which is now causing the room to fill up with water, burning or smoke inhalation from a fire which has broken out as a result of sparks given off. In fact, the dangers to health and safety are practically endless when a person is rendered unconscious from an electrical shock, for example being eaten by a bear if the shock occurs from a faulty electrical generator out in the wilderness!
The common causes of electrical fires and shocks include damaged and poorly maintained equipment (e.g. bare wires), incorrect voltage supply (a particular risk if machinery is used in different countries), inadequate/no earthing, coming into contact with water, insufficient electrical testing (e.g. PAT testing), overheating, not understood or not followed a permit to work procedure which keeps electricity supply turned off whilst work takes place, and many more.