Electrical Safety Practices
Employees should pay special attention to electrical hazards when working on electrical circuits. Coming in contact with an electrical voltage can cause a dangerous level of current
(amperage) to flow through the body, resulting in electrical shock and burns. Serious injury or even death may occur due to excessive current. Remember, it’s not the voltage that kills,
it’s the current!
The electrical safety practices discussed here should apply to electrical equipment on facilities located on all of the following:
- artificial islands
- fixed structures
The areas within which equipment is located are classified according to:
- API RP 500, Recommended Practice for Classification of Locations for Electrical Installations at Petroleum Facilities Classified as Class I, Division 1 and Division 2, or
- API RP 505, Recommended Practice for Classification of Locations for Electrical Installations at Petroleum Facilities Classified as Class I, Zone 0, Zone 1, and Zone 2 (as incorporated by reference in 30 CFR 250.198).
Electrical Safety (Continued)
Employees who maintain electrical systems should have expertise in area classification and the performance, operation and hazards of electrical equipment.
- Install all electrical systems according to:
- API RP 14F, Recommended Practice for Design and Installation of Electrical Systems for Fixed and Floating Offshore Petroleum Facilities for Unclassified and Class I, Division 1, and Division 2 Locations (as incorporated by reference in 30 CFR 250.198), or
- API RP 14FZ, Recommended Practice for Design and Installation of Electrical Systems for Fixed and Floating Offshore Petroleum Facilities for Unclassified and Class I, Zone 0, Zone 1, and Zone 2 Locations (as incorporated by reference in 30 CFR 250.198).
Installation, Repair, and Maintenance
When installing, repairing, and maintaining electrical equipment:
- Only competent and authorized employees should perform work on electrical equipment.
- Only approved procedures and practices should be used.
- Electrical equipment and components should be properly grounded.
- A ‘Danger – High Voltage’ or equivalent sign should be posted in high voltage equipment areas.
- First aid/CPR posters should be posted in a prominent location near high voltage equipment areas.
- Ensure that an insulating dielectric mat is used appropriately and maintained in a clean and dry condition.
- Enclosures and covers for electrical equipment and components should be in place, secure, and properly maintained.
- The power source for out-of-service electrical equipment should be disconnected.
- Out-of-service equipment should be clearly marked unless immediate repairs are planned.
Installation, Repair, and Maintenance (Continued)
- Proper testing instruments should always be used. The hand or fingers should never be used to test for voltage.
- Fuses should not be bridged with unapproved conductors. Only use proper fuse pulling tools for replacing fuses.
- Electrical extension cords should not be spliced.
- Water should never be used for cleaning electrical equipment or devices.
- Electrical equipment should never be altered such that it changes the hazard rating.
- Power tools should be inspected for damage to cords or connections prior to each use.
- Electrical hand tools should never be used while the worker is standing in water or outside when wet or raining.
- Before attempting repairs, equipment should be properly lockout/tagged out and disconnected or checked to ensure the power source is off.
- Employees should never work on live electrical equipment.
- Metal ladders should not be used for electrical work.
- Electrical protective equipment should be used, including a dielectric hook, insulated rubber gloves, heat tempered face shield, and dielectric apron when working on high-voltage equipment (600v or greater as per NFPA 70E).
- Only CO2 or powder type extinguishers should be used to respond to fires in any electrical equipment or areas.
Cathodic Protection Systems
"Cathodic protection" is a term used for certain measures taken to prevent or minimize electrolytic corrosion (rust) of metallic equipment and structures. Cathodic protection devices redirect current to flow from a "sacrificial" anode to the soils-water electrolyte, instead of from an anode area on a pipeline or other metallic structure to be protected. Doing this helps to extend the length of new and existing offshore platform assets.
Prior to beginning work on equipment protected by an impressed current Cathodic protection system, which uses high current (as much as 400 amps), a competent and authorized person should first determine whether the impressed current protection system on electrical equipment should remain on or off.
These safety guidelines should be followed when performing platform cabling:
- Platform electric cables should be checked regularly by an authorized electrician.
- Temporary splices should never be made to damaged cables.
- Cabling on cable trays should be supported and secured with stainless steel straps or plastic tie wraps fire rated for the location.
- Holes made through watertight bulkheads for cabling should be closed with the correct transit blocks and/or glands.
Portable Hand and Power Tools
Do the following when working with portable hand tools and equipment:
All of the following should be included in the PTW system:
- Ensure tools are not defective and are in good working condition.
- Power tools should be used only for their intended purposes.
- Verify unmodified guards are on all power tools and equipment.
- Verify that all portable electric hand tools and equipment are:
- equipped with a 3-pronged electrical connection
- double insulated
- used in conjunction with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
- All hand-held power tools, such as drills, grinders, needle guns, etc., should be equipped with a constant pressure on/off control switch that automatically turns off the equipment/tool whenever the control switch is released.
- Portable tools with locking on/off control switch capabilities must never be used.
- Use cold cutting tools, not electric hand tools, in areas where flammable liquids and/or gas may still be behind pipe or released to atmosphere.
Batteries store sulfuric acid electrolytes and electrical energy that may cause an explosion and personal injury if suddenly released.
When working with batteries:
- Cover batteries stored in boxes as sources of emergency power with a non-conductive rubber mat under the lid of the box.
- Fit battery boxes with vents directed away from air inlets and sources of ignition.
- During the change out of batteries, avoid naked flames and sparks in the immediate vicinity of the battery.
- Chock batteries in their storage boxes to prevent movement under tow.
- Do not lift batteries by their terminals.
- Have plenty of ventilation, wear all required protective clothing and eyewear, remove jewelry, and exercise caution.
- Specialty or non-conductive tools should be considered when performing maintenance on batteries.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions for testing, jumping, installing, and charging all batteries.
- Only use spirit (alcohol) thermometers when measuring a battery’s temperature.
- All lead acid, NiCad, and lithium batteries should be disposed of in accordance with all local, state, and federal regulations. Recycle these batteries as universal waste under the company’s waste management plan.
Tie-Ins to Company Equipment
Written permission from a company representative should first be obtained before contractors are permitted to tie into existing company facilities, including pipelines, electrical power circuits,
and all other equipment.
Extension and Cheater Cords
Power tools and portable electrical test equipment may or may not be rated for use in classified areas. They are equipped with standard non-explosion-proof plug ends, making it sometimes necessary
to use an extension cord when plugging into explosion-proof receptacles.
Due to the hazard of arcing electrical equipment or connections when plugging in this equipment, use the following practices:
- Use only electrical equipment that is approved for use in a classified area.
- Make sure a Hot Work Permit has been issued and the atmosphere has been tested to ensure flammable, gas-free conditions.
- Connections should be taped to prevent them from separating.
- Connections made with explosion-proof ends should be made outside of the classified areas.
- The last connection made should always be plugging the cheater cord into the explosion-proof receptacle.
- Break the connection at the explosion proof receptacle first when the job is completed.
- Remove from service and destroy extension cords that are frayed, taped, or otherwise damaged.
- Use extension cords only for temporary situations.
Mobile Phone/Personal Electronic Device Use
When using mobile phones or Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) including cell phones, pagers, cameras, and CD/mp3/iPod players, be sure to use the following practices:
- When arriving on the platform, report mobile phones and PEDs to the person in charge.
- Never use these types of equipment outside of living quarters, except in PPE-free zones.
- During helicopter flights, turn off mobile phones, portable electronic devices, and radio transmitting devices.
- Obtain a Hot Work Permit for camera use in classified areas.
Electrical Safety for the Construction Worker
Thanks to WESCO Distribution for this excellent video on electrical safety that applies in any construction situation.
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