SMSTS Health and Safety Courses and Electricity
Electricity is a key subject area taught on CITB Site Management SMSTS courses as it has the potential to cause serious injuries or death if suitable precautions are not followed.
The most obvious way in which working with or near electrical cables or machinery can be made safer is to switch off the supply of electricity before starting any work if this is possible. With no electricity flowing, wires can be safely touched and worked on, although machinery may need to be 'earthed' to discharge any static electricity which remains and could cause a spark or shock. It may also be necessary for a permit to work system to be put into place to ensure that the electricity is off and remains off until work is complete and it is safe to switch the power back on. Often though it will be impractical for the electricity to be switched off, for example turning the electricity off to an entire town whilst a small construction site operates near the power lines, in which case suitable precautions need to be undertaken in order to avoid the risk of injury or death from electricity.
On a construction site, a number of the tools being used will run off electricity rather than batteries. This means that there is a risk of electric shock from faulty or damaged equipment; most often damaged cables and plug casings. The tools used on a construction site will often be subjected to a lot of rough handling as they are used, stored and transported around from place to place. Damaged plugs and cables caused by actions such as overstretching the cable, accidentally cutting the protective sheathing of the cable, carrying the tool by the cable, accidentally bashing the plug whilst it is plugged in or putting a heavy item on top of the plug whilst it is being stored and causing the casing to crack can all lead to the bare wire being exposed which can cause an electric shock to the operator.
Whilst health and safety courses and training can make workers on a construction site aware of the dangers that electricity can pose to their safety, it will only be truly effective in reducing accidents if it is combined with common sense and a suitable working environment of reporting faults and not taking risks by using damaged equipment.