Setting up a new business is obviously a stressful time. There are a hundred and one things that need to be considered and organised, so it can be difficult to get everything right straight away. When it comes to safety, though, there is no room for error, so it should be front and centre in your mind throughout the entire process of getting your business off the ground. And one of the most important safety considerations is about how your business will run all its electrical components—from industry specific heavy equipment right through to the kettle in the kitchen.
Anything that uses electricity to run is a potential hazard, and as the owner of the business, you are liable for any injuries that may occur as a result of faulty equipment or wiring. So, it is in your own interest to be extremely prudent with the electrical setup in and around your business’s premises. Following the best electrical safety practices will keep you, your employees and your customers safe and avoid costly maintenance shutdowns.
Follow these tips to help keep your business compliant with electrical safety guidelines:
1. Hire a qualified electrician to inspect the building’s wiring
This should be a fairly obvious one but it never hurts to remind people. Only a qualified electrician is capable of performing a thorough check of the building’s wiring, so there is really no way around this one. This should be one of the first things you do, well before you start populating the space with equipment and furniture.
It is also a good idea to have a list of electrical specifications so that the electrician can determine if additional outlets and circuits need installing. For example, appropriate retail electrical installation entails certain specifications unique to that kind of business.
So, make sure the electrician is aware of exactly what will be going on inside the building so that they can determine what modifications need to be made.
2. Prevent all potential contact with live electrical current
The best way to be safe is to stay away from electrical hazards entirely. Unqualified personnel should not interact or come close to electrical currents greater than 50V. If you must work in the same area or room as an electrical hazard or equipment operating on more than 50V, maintain a safe distance and ensure there are physical barriers preventing contact with the hazard. All panel doors should be shut, and there should be no exposed wires around your work area before you begin your operations.
If cabinets cannot be closed, or if an electrical hazard cannot be fully closed in, shields, barriers, or insulating materials should be used. Additionally, if a qualified electrician is performing maintenance and must keep an electrical panel open, physical barriers should be put in place to prevent others from entering the area.
3. Ensure safe use of electrical equipment
Strict guidelines on using electrical equipment will help ensure safe operation by employees. Signage will help maintain a high level of compliance.
Additionally, employees should take care to handle electrical cords properly by:
– Always unplugging cords by pulling on the plug head, rather than the cord
– Not pressing or overstretching electrical cords
– Not fastening cords with staples
– Not hanging electrical equipment from cords
All cords and plugs in the workplace should be visually inspected for external defects prior to use. If you encounter a cord or plug with damage, do not use that equipment.
4. Testing and tagging
All electrical equipment should be tested and tagged annually. Test and tag all equipment right down to extension cords and power boards. This helps to keep a high maintenance standard, ensuring that there aren’t any faulty cables that could become potential safety hazardous.
5. Beware of conductive tools and cleaning products
If you’re working in an area where an electrical hazard is present, always assume that electrical parts are live. Do not use conductive tools such as drills and saws in the area.
If you’re cleaning in such an area, note that some cleaning products are conductive such as solvent and water-based cleaning materials as well as steel wool and metallic cloths. Keep these cleaning products, as well as any conductive tools, away from live electrical parts and equipment.
6. Use extreme caution with flammable materials
Electrical equipment that can cause ignition must not be used where flammable vapours, gases or dust are present. The only exception is when qualified personnel take measures to isolate electrical energy sources before these potentially flammable materials may be used.
7. Avoid overloading your outlets
Plugging too many electrical devices into an outlet can cause the circuit to overload. This is often what causes an electrical power surge and can be both hazardous to personnel as well as damaging to your equipment. If the building has been modified to spec by a qualified electrician then there shouldn’t be any risk of overloading outlets.
Adhering to these basic electrical safety practices will go a long way in ensuring the safety of yourself, your employees and your customers. Not to mention reduce the risk of costly damage to your equipment. When in doubt, it’s always best to employ the services of a qualified professional, and when it comes to finding a competent commercial electrician Perth.