Are your employees punished when they make mistakes? Are your employees afraid to notify their supervisor when something minor has gone wrong? Do injuries go unreported? NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® requires that your electrical safety program include elements for investigating incidents. If you can answer yes to the previous questions, this task will be more difficult than need be. If you have fostered a safe work environment, you might already be conducting investigations.
Incident investigations should not be limited to those where an employee is injured to the point where medical attention is required. Electrical incidents include occurrences that could have resulted in a fatality or an injury. Incidents of this type are commonly referred to as a “close call” or “near miss.” Although electrical incidents are often the result of human error, an employee does not intentionally initiate an electrical incident. A near miss is most often an injury that did not occur by chance. Every electrical shock is a potential electrocution under the right condition. A thermal burn means that all hazards were not properly addressed. A minor injury that resulted from a missing step in a work procedure may be a fatality the next time the procedure is performed with that missing step.
Employers and employees must accept their responsibilities and work together to find the causes of incidents and near misses. Employee involvement in creating a safer work environment should be fostered. Employees should be trained and encouraged to report any potential injury situation, near miss or incident brought about by human error or insufficient procedures. The electrical safety program, work procedures, protective equipment, and test instruments may require revision to prevent another occurrence, future injury or death. If the employee is not following the electrical safety principles or procedures, corrective action should be taken. This corrective action could consist of applicable modification of the training program such as increasing the frequency of training or adding follow-up verification of compliance. However, it is important that an enforcement program be established for willful violations of your safety regulations.
Investigations required by NFPA 70E are not for the purpose of assigning blame. They are intended to improve worker safety. For the process to work, employers and employees must cooperate and trust each other.
For more information on 70E, .
Next time: You are a curious bunch.