Workers Health & Safety Centre

WHSC Electrical Hazards Module undergoes extensive changes

WHSC Electrical Hazards Module undergoes extensive changes
As electricity is present in every workplace, the need to recognize, assess, and control related hazardous exposures is significant. To this end, this three-hour Certification hazard-specific module is included in several WHSC Certification Sector Programs. For similar reasons the WHSC identified this program for extensive updates.
Released in late 2010 Version 3.0 of this program considerably expands and reorganizes both the instructor and participant manuals.

Changes to organization and structure

  • In keeping with the format of most of our newly revised hazard modules the need for a workplace policy and program that effectively addresses electrical hazards is now discussed up front in this program.
  • Similarly, like other recently updated hazard modules, the principles of control section has been divided into two sections —  a generic section, and a hazard-specific section.
  • In Version 2.0 of this program hazards were addressed separately. This new version however groups hazards according to their type such as shock, arc flash and arc blast and other hazardous situations.

New content to Version 3.0

  • Discussion of hazards associated with arc flash and arc blast, plus their assessment and control constitutes one of the most significant additions to this program.
  • Besides an explanation of why workplaces need an electrical safety program, this new version also briefly outlines what should be included in the electrical safety plan. 
  • The assessment section includes a discussion on shock hazard boundaries and arc flash boundaries, and the conditions under which work can be conducted inside those boundaries. This section also outlines why a shock hazard analysis or an arc flash hazard analysis may be required.
  • The legislation section now includes a discussion on specific and relevant clauses that are common to the Construction, Health Care, Industrial and Mining Regulations. These clauses govern issues such as de-energizing and lockout, personal protective equipment and working near a live power line.

Also included are other laws and standards that regulate the use of electricity and electrical hazards, such as the Electrical Distribution Safety Regulation, Electrical Safety Authority Regulation, and the Workplace Electrical Safety Standard (CSA Z462-08). CSA Z462-08 is heavily referenced throughout the module. Announced in 2009 this standard is a complement to the standard on lockout and tagging, CSA Z460-05. It is presently the most complete authority on electrical safety. This industry good practice is applicable in most workplaces. The Ministry of Labour uses the standard for guidance in determining reasonable precautions for live work.
While the new CSA standard is designed to protect workers from both shock and arc flash exposures, provisions related to arc flash have garnered the most attention, as they address a need previously unmet by other Canadian standards.

Resource sheets and Worksheets

  • Overall there are two new resource sheets in this module, while three from the old version have been dropped. The two new ones comprise a listing of what should be included in the principles, controls and procedures of a typical electrical safety program as outlined in the new CSA standard, plus another providing a sample job briefing and planning checklist. Resource sheets deleted from the program include a listing of applicable legislation, plus two others on standards and rubber glove selection. All three of these are now covered in the body of the program.
  • Remaining resource sheets include one on electrical tools, safety footwear and proper work procedures, although this last one has been rewritten and replaced with new content covering a much more exhaustive list of general safety tips for working with or near electricity.
  • The single worksheet in version 2.0 — preparing and implementing a plan of action — has been replaced by three new ones. They are:
    1. a whole group exercise designed to help participants learn common electrical terms;
    2. another requiring participants to work in small groups to identify the health effects and injuries caused by electrical hazards; and
    3. a buzz group exercise covering 12 questions related to controlling electrical hazards.

Audio visual aids

The previous video, A Shocking Hazard — Working with Electricity, has been removed.  In its place is a four-minute video clip, Donnie’s Accident, which has been embedded directly into the PowerPoint. The video features the compelling story of a man who survived an arc flash and the impact it had on him and his family.

Instructional techniques

With the addition of information addressing arc flash and arc blast, this module has virtually doubled its content. Consequently, although the program benefits from participatory exercises, by necessity much of this program relies on the use an active lecture. By extension then, instructors will need to review the new content in detail before tackling its delivery.