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March 24, 2015

Safety Tip: Electrical Safety Best Practices

Three electrocutions in mines prompted the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to issue a “Safety Alert” featuring tips to help prevent electricity-related accidents. Even if you don't work in a mine, these tips can help prevent electrocution:
    Electrical hazard Keep Out
  • Do not perform any electrical work until the circuit is de-energized, locked and tagged out.
  • Be knowledgeable of the hazards of electricity and NEVER touch any ungrounded electrical component until you are sure it is de-energized.
  • Identify all hazards then develop and follow a safe plan to perform the work to ensure the safety of all miners who are involved in the task. Conduct electrical measurements to test for unwanted electrical power, especially in wet or muddy areas.
  • Always handle de-energized cable instead of energized cable, or wear proper electrical gloves when handling energized cables.
  • Conduct complete and thorough examinations on all electrical equipment, including hand-over-hand examinations of de-energized electrical cables.
  • Protect electrical cables from damage by mobile equipment. When cable damage is suspected, immediately notify a qualified electrician.

Electrical Troubleshooting Best Practices:

    Connect ground wire before using
  • Develop, communicate, ensure understanding and execute a plan before performing electrical troubleshooting or electrical work to ensure maximum safety for all workers involved.
  • When troubleshooting can be performed without power, always de-energize the circuit.
  • Never troubleshoot energized high-voltage circuits (over 1,000 volts).
  • Wear properly rated and well-maintained electrical gloves when troubleshooting or testing energized low- and medium-voltage circuits.
  • Ensure electrical meters and non-contact voltage testers are properly rated and in good operating condition
  • After determining the electrical problem - and before performing electrical work - open the circuit breaker, disconnect and lock-out and tag-out the visual disconnecting device. Ground high-voltage circuits.

Electrical Work Best Practices:

    Do not separate when energized
  • After determining the electrical problem, and before performing electrical work, open the circuit breaker, disconnect and lock-out and tag-out the visual disconnecting device. High voltage circuits must also be grounded.
  • Perform your own lock-out and tag-out procedure and NEVER rely on others to do this for you. Multiple locks for multiple workers
  • Use electrical meters and non-contact voltage testers to ensure electrical circuits are de-energized prior to performing electrical work.
  • Prior to energizing equipment that has not been in service for an extended period of time, take great care to examine and test components, especially safety devices, to ensure that the equipment is in safe operating condition. Consider the service life of each component.

Remember: When you break the plane of an open enclosure, compartment or panel you ARE DOING electrical troubleshooting or electrical work! Before taking gloves off, turn off the power.

Additional Resources:


  1. In most cases, shouldn't the wires just be de-energized? I know there are some situations when that's impossible, but I think it can be done the majority of the time. And it's an easy way to stay safe.

  2. Like you say, if you are ever working on the electrics in your home you should turn off the power. That will prevent anyone from getting electric shocked. I've been shocked before, and it really hurts. Not something that I want to experience again anytime soon.

  3. I love how all of your advice goes beyond just turning your breaker off. It sounds like turn it off and wait a considerable amount of time before I start to do the electrical work that I need to do. My wife has wanted a new ceiling chandelier. The one we chose required more electrical power.

  4. Bryan is right, this advice is so much deeper than just turning the breaker on and off. It really shows you all of the things that you should watch out for. A lot of people don't realize that they can get hurt by something even if it isn't plugged in. A lot of times the capacitor still holds a charge, so you should always have a professional do this for you.

  5. In general, how long does it take for the circuit to de-energize. I really appreciate the idea of waiting until I have evidence of the all clear, before I start messing with electrical products. Sadly, money is tight, so I am not really able to turn this task over to an expert to worry about. This just means that I will have to learn important measures that will help me stay safer when dealing with electricity.

  6. hoffman enclosures catalog NHP provides a range of quality Enclosure systems to protect your electrical components and electronic components from hostile environments.

  7. I personally leave all of these electrical problems up to the professionals. If there is an emergency, I know how to shut off the breaker, but that is about it. Even when something is unplugged, it can still be dangerous and hold a charge. I'm glad that I found this article though. At least now I know that I am doing the right thing by leaving these repairs to the pros.

  8. Electricians Test Equipment are the most important in all this. We must have a proper check on equipment before final use. so be careful. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I will add this to my blog at Electricians Toronto as well. Thank you for the information.

  10. It is very important to don't execute any kind of electric work before the circuit is de-energized, secured and also tagged out.