Smart Business 2018: Prioritizing Electrical Safety for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals

These days, smart businesses prioritize electrical safety. To maximize the benefit of electrical safety with regard to maintenance and reliability in the plant, it’s important to consider the allocation of resources.

When it comes to equipment maintenance, choose reliability over risk. Neglecting the maintenance of electrical equipment and wiring can lead to non-compliance with installation codes and practices, but it can also increase the probability of workplace injury.

Today, the smart business choice is to lean into safety.

It can be said that electrical professionals may be knowledgeable about electrical technology and how electrical equipment functions, but they may not be seasoned experts in safety management and maintenance and reliability systems. And, maintenance and reliability professionals may be highly skilled in understanding and implementing functional equipment, but they may not be familiar with safety management or the facility’s electrical systems.

A facility’s senior management may not have deep expertise in either of these areas, but they do hold the key to financial resources and human resources that can solve for issues of importance, like electrical safety. Therefore, their collective skills and responsibilities can create facility-wide collaboration to improve both the electrical safety program and the electrical system maintenance with an eye on uptime.

Smart businesses also put a significant emphasis on eliminating energized work, whenever possible. This means placing equipment in an electrically safe working condition and verifying that equipment is deenergized must be a primary focus of the electrical safety program.

Lockout/tagout is a critical step in verifying the absence of voltage

Every step to verify the absence of voltage is purposefully designed to serve as a critical safety step.

Eliminating a hazard is the most effective method according to the hierarchy of risk controls, and should be the first choice whenever possible. NFPA 70E emphasizes the need to work on electrical systems only when they are placed in an electrically safe working condition, but creating and verifying this condition requires more than just de-energizing, as it involves multiple steps to confirm the system is safe and verify the absence of voltage.

Though the entire testing process may seem complex, every step is purposefully designed to serve as a critical safety step, making it impossible to skip testing steps and still attain an electrically safe working condition.

Absence-of-voltage testers (AVTs) are permanently-mounted testing devices that are specifically designed to determine if a circuit part is de-­energized prior to opening panels or removing covers to access and maintain electrical equipment.

AVTs are a new product listing category in UL 1436, Standard for Outlet Circuit Testers. They are designed to automatically run internal diagnostics and administer the live-dead-live type of verification testing with an internal known voltage source and actively indicate the absence of voltage.

AVTs help improve electrical safety by way of a Prevention through Design approach, making them an ideal option for maintenance and reliability professionals and their staff.