Safe handling of electrical equipment is as important as the handling of chemical materials, however, the hazardous nature of electrical devices is often overlooked.
Improper operation of electrically-powered devices may potentially lead to injury or death by electric shock. Additionally, electrical sparks in the laboratory may lead to fire or explosions, especially when highly flammable or potentially explosive chemicals are placed in close proximity.
Prevention of electrical accidents involves inspection of electrical wiring, keeping power cords at distances safe from water or chemicals, and situational awareness.
This video will illustrate the necessary precautions to take before using electrically-powered devices, and the procedures used to prevent or handle shock-related accidents and electrical fires.
Before powering up any electrical device, make sure the power cord is in good condition. Do not use the device with a frayed cord or exposed wires.
Make sure the device is on a sturdy surface free from clutter or debris to prevent it from falling. Additionally, keep flammable and corrosive chemicals at a safe distance from electrical outlets.
Familiarize yourself with the emergency electrical shut off and the circuit breaker box in the event that a device needs to be shut down. Properly label the circuits to which each electrical outlet is connected.
Inspect all laboratory electrical equipment on a regular basis by checking for the wiring conditions. In case of damaged wire or defective device have the parts replaced by experienced personnel immediately.
To prevent electrical shock, keep plugged-in devices away from any water-filled sinks or tubs, and avoid touching them with wet hands.
Additionally, use only electrically-powered devices equipped with a grounding plug. Avoid forcing a plug into an ill-fitting socket, and replace any damaged sockets or plugs.
Always use surge protectors to protect electrical devices from voltage spikes, and never use extension cords for permanent laboratory equipment.
Electrical fires may be caused by contact with flammable chemicals, but also by overloaded circuits. Use no more than two electrical devices per outlet, or use surge protectors to prevent overload. Additionally, keep electrical devices away from open flames to avoid melting of the wire.
Always know the location of the fire extinguisher. In case of a small electrical fire, use a CO2 extinguisher or sand.
If a fire extinguisher needs to be used follow the PASS rule. Pull the pin first. Then take the nozzle and aim towards the base of the fire and squeeze the trigger. Slowly sweep the nozzle from side to side to cover the burning area.
In case of a large fire, sound the fire alarm, leave the area immediately, and call 911.
If a lab worker has been electrically shocked, ensure that the power is off, and call 911. Do not touch the victim with bare skin to avoid acting as a conduit for the electricity to reach ground. Always use non-conductive materials such as wood, glass or rubber to help the electrically shocked person.
You've just watched JoVE's introduction to electrical safety. You should now understand safeguards against electrical safety hazards, how to be prepared in the event of an accident, what to do to prevent an electric shock and electrical fires. Thanks for watching!