While electricity gives us such benefits as heat, lights, cooked food and machinery, it is also a source of danger. A current as low as 50 milliamps is capable of causing severely impaired breathing as well as paralysis that makes it impossible to let go of the electrical contact, according to the Technology Division of Niagara College. This current can be generated in the human body by 120 volts, which is the standard voltage used by most home and workshop equipment. Safety is therefore a primary concern in electrical workshops.
The most basic element of electrical workshop safety is simply paying attention. This means focusing on the task at hand, and not trying to do multiple things at the same time. It also means not distracting other people while they are trying to work with or around electrical hazards. Before using electrical equipment you should inspect it for obvious defects, such as burn marks or signs of damage. These could indicate the danger of electric shock. Check that all pieces of electrical equipment, and all metal casings on electric equipment, are grounded.
It is important to dress appropriately when working with electrical equipment. Do not wear loose clothing, which could catch on something hazardous. Wear electrical safety shoes and non-polyester, low-flammability clothing when working with 600 or more volts of electricity. When soldering, wear a protective apron over flammable clothes, such a polyester. Wear eye protection when installing or repairing any electrical equipment. Never wear jewellery, as it increases your conductivity.
Keep It Clean
Keeping the workshop clean and orderly is also an important safety practice. All floor areas should be clear of obstructions. Do not leave electrical equipment where it can cause a hazard, such as power cords extending over the edge of a bench. Cords running along the floor should be out of the way of foot traffic, or else should be taped down so that they do not present a tripping hazard. Keep the workbench free of clutter and do not leave drawers open.
Check the Outlets
Checking on the condition of the electrical sockets is also an important part of electrical workshop safety. Outlets can deteriorate from repeated use. Deteriorated or damaged outlets are an electrical shock hazard, and should be replaced. They may overheat and even catch on fire. Signs that an outlet should be replaced are scorch marks, damage to the faceplate and loosefitting plugs.
Observing the proper electrical safety practices is another important feature. Always disconnect power to any device before repairing it. Shut off power to any electric circuit you are building or troubleshooting unless it is absolutely necessary to keep it on. Remember that some electronic equipment, such as capacitors, can retain a dangerous voltage in them even after they've been disconnected. Never touch an uninsulated wire. Always check high voltages with one hand in your pocket or behind your back to minimise the current flowing across your chest in case of accident. Never work with wet hands; this increases your conductivity. Never overload wires with too much current.
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