Safety Precautions When Using Electrical Equipment

An electrician working on an outlet in a kitchen with a multimeter.
What You'll Need
What You'll Need

When it comes to working with electrical equipment, putting safety precautions in place for any electrical project is always a top priority. From basic knowledge and equipment safety to personal precautions and equipment performance, knowing what to do to help prevent injuries and ensure safety can be a lifesaver.

Avoid Water

A critical precaution when working with electrical equipment is staying out of water. If you’re working in an area where there is a good chance you’ll be around it, wear rubber boots at all times, but avoid standing on a wet surface while working with electrical equipment. Also, when working with equipment near electrical circuits, don’t work with wet hands. Keep towels nearby so you don’t run the risk of becoming the conduit for electric current.

Check for Live Wires

Before beginning work, check to ensure what you’re working on is not energized. Use an electrical current tester to check for live or hot wires. Check all wires and the metallic flap that covers the service panel, too. Never assume electrical devices are not energized. Check first and be safe.

Before taking a single step to service electrical equipment, disconnect the power source. It’s the only way to be 100 percent sure no current is running through the wires. For added safety, place a note on the service panel alerting others not to turn the power on.

Use the Right Fuse

When making repairs to a circuit breaker panel, be sure to use the appropriate fuse, otherwise, it may result in a drawing excessive current and cause a fire.

Prevent Shocks

Prevent shocks from happening by covering the bare ends of a wire in a service panel with a small plastic cap. If you touch the end by mistake, the cap works as an insulator for the copper and eliminates being shocked.

Should someone you’re working with come in direct contact with an electrical conductor, it is imperative that you not touch the person, the equipment, or the equipment cord. Shut off the power at the circuit breaker or use a leather belt to disconnect the plug from the wall.

Equipment and Personal Safety

To prevent accidents, wear rubber boots and insulated rubber gloves, shoes with insulated soles, protective garments, and safety goggles.

When working with electricity, it's best to use a wooden or fiberglass ladder versus steel or aluminum. With either an aluminum or steel ladder, should you get an electric shock, you would become the main path for the current as it passes through your body to return to ground through the conductive ladder.

Non-conducting handles are a must for tools and equipment any time installation, repair, and replacement projects are in place for any type of electrical work. Always use insulated tools.

While it may be necessary to make notes or measurements during an electrical job, avoid using anything metallic such as rulers, pens, or pencils. It is also recommended not to wear any metal-based jewelry such as watchbands, chains, or rings. If you have piercings with metal studs, it would be wise to remove these as well as a safety precaution.

Dress appropriately when working with electrical equipment. This means no loose clothing that can get caught in the equipment leading to serious injury.

Cold rooms can mean a buildup of condensation. When working in this type of environment, move electrical equipment away from the floor and mount on a wall or panel as a safety precaution.

Equipment Reliability

A frayed cord is an accident waiting to happen. Do not use any piece of equipment that is damaged, has broken plugs, has poor insulation, or cords are coming apart. It’s in your best interest to have the equipment repaired or replaced to avoid severe injury.

Should a piece of electrical equipment come in contact with any type of liquid, shut off the equipment immediately and unplug it. A saturated piece of equipment is unsafe.

If a piece of electrical equipment produces a tingly feeling, its ground connection is probably faulty. Disconnect it and don’t use it until repaired.