It happens to everyone to lose power at some time and the feeling of being in the dark, the heat of summer or cold weather of snowy winter without air conditioner, worrying about food left in the fridge, not being able to work at your computer and losing business deadlines is familiar yet disturbing. In these situations you certainly remember electricians and realize how important they are to your safety, comfort and success in life and business!
As they are always available to help you get plugged into comfort and safety of everyday life and business, at any hour and any location, they risk their own comfort and safety and face many work related hazards!
In this article, we will explore these work related risks and introduce you to the hardships of an electrician’s work.
What does an electrician do?
In order to understand the hardships of an electrician’s work, you should first know what they do on a daily basis.
Electricians work in various sectors including:
- Residential electrical services
- Commercial electrical services
- Industrial electrical services
- Construction projects
To perform tasks such as:
- Design electrical systems based on blueprint
- Install control systems, lightings, air conditioning system, electric appliances and machinery
- Inspect, maintain and troubleshoot the existing wiring
In order to do these tasks and measure and test electrical connections, compatibility and safety of the system, they use different technical equipments and machinery like:
- Electronic controllers
- Harmonic testers
Electricians also use tools to cut and shape wire like screwdrivers, conduit benders, knives, pliers, wire strippers, hacksaws, saws and drills which are all sharp and dangerous devices.
Electricians are required to have high school diploma in order to be accepted into apprentice programs where they train on the job for 4 years and pass a licensure examination to get certification which must be renewed annually.
In the course of training, they learn about Safety Standards Act, public safety, codes and regulations along with mathematics and physics electrical theories, tools and machinery and reading blueprints which is a diagram showing circuits, load centers, outlets, panel boards and their locations.
If they wish to become Field Safety Representative (FSR) in order to sign the work performed by electrical contractors, they must pass certification exam.
Electricians must also follow and apply latest industry best practices.
With solar, wind and other alternative energies rising in popularity, ongoing training is necessary for electricians who want to specialize in green and eco-friendly electrical systems and environmental technologies.
In addition, commercial industries are turning to automation; therefore, demand for knowledge in automation requires constant learning for electricians.
They must also demonstrate skills such as proper color vision to distinguish color-coded wires, physical and mental fitness to be able to work in all kind of places, eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity to deliver precise results and a perfect sense of balance for safety in heights.
Time management is another critical skill since electricians should deliver commercial projects according to contract or face penalties and be on time for residential services for the comfort of residents.
They should also be creative in order to estimate the most cost effective solution and deliver the best energy saving system.
After years of working and experience (sometimes 10 years!) they become master electricians working as supervisors, project managers and contractors.
In order to establish an electrical service business, they must provide bond and insurance often in high numbers to be able to cover financial value of the contracts.
Why is electrician’s work so hard?
According to the statics in Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), electricians experience a higher than average rates of injuries on the jobsite with some of them being potentially fatal!
Common accidents include electrical shocks, burns, cuts, eye injury from flying particles and falls from height.
Electricians experience constant standing and kneeling sometimes in awkward positions which can be irritating in cramped and confined spaces especially if they have to perform repetitive manual tasks or lift heavy objects for long hours.
They might also work with noisy machinery or in loud environments.
Electricians work in different environments which may expose them to chemical hazards such as solvents, lead, solder, UV radiation, moulds, bacteria, fungi, bird or rodent droppings, asbestos and extreme temperatures.
Working alone is another stress in electrician’s work which can increase the risk of above mentioned accidents.
Although they work the standard 40 hours a week but overtime working is very common especially in odd hours of evenings and nights. They are often on call for emergencies, shift work or extended work days.
What are preventative measures?
Due to the high number of accidents in electrician’s work, preventative measures are taken into account by law; therefore, electricians are required to wear protective clothing, safety shoes, hardhats, work gloves, safety glasses, masks and hearing protection specifically in environments with excess noise and chemical exposure risk.
When working at heights, Personal Fall Protection System (PFPS) is essential which includes safety harness, lanyard and climbing ropes.
Learning about fire safety, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), identifying and reporting a hazardous energy are required for electricians.
Following company safety rules, inspecting work area before starting the work, keeping tools and protective equipments at best condition according to manufacturer’s recommendations are best practices.
Taking frequent break from repetitive tasks, applying healthy postures and safe lifting and maintaining a clean working area are all necessary for health and safety of electricians.
The hardships of an electrician’s work are real and there is no doubt about it.
An electrician is at high risk of jobsite hazards on a daily basis and sometimes no amount of protective measures can prevent accidents.
So next time when you need an electrician, specificity at odd hours and awkward locations, remember the nature of their job and appreciate their availability and presence!
At Redox, we provide your comfort and protect your safety.