Electricity has so many uses in today's office environment. It provides the energy needed to power up artificial lighting sources, air conditioners, heaters, water heaters, computers, laptops, photocopiers, printers and other electrical components or devices used in the office.
While office workers may not be at an obvious risk of electrical hazards as their colleagues who work with electricity directly, ensuring electrical safety in office environments isn't any less critical.
Below is a look at some common types of electrical hazards in the office space and how they can be mitigated.
1. Contact With "Live" Parts
As standard, all internally energised components of electrical equipment come completely insulated to prevent contact with live parts. However, the insulation can get damaged over time, greatly increasing the risk of electrocution if someone touches a live part.
To prevent the risk of an electric shock, the insulation installed on electrical equipment used in the office should be inspected regularly. If the insulation is found to be damaged, it should be repaired before the normal operation of the equipment can resume.
The risk of injury from contact with electricity can also occur when the "live" wiring connected to electrical outlets are left exposed. Scheduled electrical checks around the office should include an inspection of electrical wiring and outlets installed within the establishment.
2. Wet/Damp Conditions
Like homes, offices can get flooded. When this happens, the office can become a serious hazard for employees and other people who access the premises. Water heightens the risk of electric shock in the workplace. Electrical equipment that has gotten wet must never be operated until a qualified electrician has been called in to check it out.
Also, electrical equipment must never be operated in wet or damp areas. There's a greater risk of electrocution in wet conditions, especially if there are pre-existing earth faults. Proper ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) should be used to minimise the risk of electrocution from pre-existing earth faults.
3. Circuit Overloading
This problem arises when the electrical device or devices plugged into an electrical outlet exceed the outlet's maximum load capacity. This, in turn, may cause the equipment to overheat and even trigger a fire.
The best way to prevent hazards arising from circuit overloads is to avoid overloading power outlets and use the proper circuit breakers. In the case of a system overload, the circuit breaker will trip and protect workers from potential harm.
Have an electrical issue in your office that has to be addressed? Have a commercial electrician take a look at the problem and fix it.