Electrical systems for warehouses are designed to handle a variety of power demands; from heavy lighting, requirements to operating machinery and even vehicles. Apart from reducing the risk of workplace injuries, it’s important to have the right electrical items, fixtures, and even safety devices to ensure you meet all the required regulations or you could end up facing heavy penalties.
There are quite a few things that contribute to electrical hazards in a warehouse. Here are some of the most common ones you should be aware of:
- Overloaded Circuits- Subjecting a fixture or even wires to more load than they’re designed to handle can result in short-circuits and fires
- Frayed or Torn Wires- Power cords can naturally wear out over time and crack or fray, but they often also get dragged, pulled and even stepped on
- Outlets near Conductors- Electrical outlets installed near water sources or other conductors, as well as areas where they may be exposed to splashes, pose a huge risk
- Failure to Install Lockout Devices- There are always going to be certain areas which pose a high risk and lockout devices prevent access by unauthorized persons
- Carelessness or Human Error- A lot of injuries and even death resulting from electrical hazards are the result of employees being careless or a lack of electrical safety training
- Lack of Equipment Maintenance- Improperly maintained electrical equipment and an inadequate inspection routine is also a contributor to electrical hazards
- Inadequate Grounding and Safety Features- A faulty electrical grounding system and a lack of interrupters like GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) or AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) pose tremendous risks to life and property
The OSHA and Why It’s Important for Your Warehouse
The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a regulatory body that defines and enforces guidelines to reduce accidents which could cause injuries or fatalities. The electrical wiring and systems are also under the purview of the OSHA guidelines.
If your warehouse’s electrical system doesn’t conform to the guidelines, you may end up with a citation from OSHA.
Here are 7 things you should definitely be doing to improve Electrical safety in your warehouse:
- Timely Maintenance of Electrical Equipment- Have a qualified technician routinely inspect and test your electrical equipment and carry out any preventative maintenance and repairs on time.
- Replace Damaged Wires, Outlets and Lockout Devices- Inspect the electrical system and wiring frequently and repair or replace any fixtures or lockout devices that appear to be damaged and any wires that look frayed or worn out.
- Install Adequate Safety Devices- GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) are a life-saving device so make sure they are regularly tested. AFCIs and circuit breakers can also prevent fires, so select them carefully based on the load and the environment.
- Invest in Safety Training Programs- Have a comprehensive safety program which includes electrical safety and invests in periodic training for your employees.
- Perform Safety Audits Regularly- Apart from the regular inspections, perform a thorough audit at least once a year, which should even include fire inspections.
- Plan for Severe Weather- You may need a plan for safeguarding your warehouse from weather events like lightning, which can cause power surges that could damage your equipment and are an electrical hazard.
- Ensure Employees use PPE and Proper Equipment for Electrical Work- Personal protective equipment for electrical work can include Flame-resistant clothing, safety glasses, gloves, etc and these must be used when necessary.
It’s easy to understand why electrical safety is extremely important for your warehouse. It really is a matter of ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, and whether it’s for regulatory purposes, ensuring the safety of your employees or to prevent costly downtime and repairs, it should never be overlooked.
Jeson Pitt works with the marketing department of D&F Liquidators and regularly writes to share his knowledge while enlightening people about electrical products and solving their electrical dilemmas. He’s got the industry insights that you can count on along with years of experience in the field. Jeson lives in Hayward, CA and loves to explore different cuisines that the food trucks in the Bay area have to offer.