Safety Services Company
February 19th 2015
The 2015 NFPA 70E standard for workplace electrical safety is now making the rounds, and depending on when the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) you report to, may be adopted at any time in the next three years.
The foreword of the new standard lists 20 major changes. One change introduces the concept of “contact release” in the emergency response training. Employees exposed to shock hazards must be trained, every year, how to safely break a connection an electrocution victim may have with exposed parts. A person may freeze onto the conductor when the electricity coursing through the body causes muscles to contract, and if the current is strong anyone else who directly touches that person may be electrocuted as well.
Contact Release Training
Everybody needs to know to quickly turn off the power and safely rescue the victim without direct contact. Touching an electrocuted person may cause the second person to be shocked.
The first option is to turn off the power source at the disconnect switch, circuit breaker, power cord. Call for 911 and then have trained employees provide first aid, CPR, or AED assistance. Because sometimes the power source may be unknown or the disconnect switch can’t be located, every employee should know where they are in the case of an emergency.
The second option is forcibly removing the victim in a safe way if the power can’t be disconnected quickly enough to save the victim from breathing or heartbeat paralysis, and flesh and internal organ damage. This may mean dislodging, hitting or prying the victim with a nonconductive material while remaining in a safe location.
First examine the scene looking for other hazards especially stored energy, fire and hot surfaces.
Ideally your hands and feed should be dry, you are wearing protective equipment and be standing on a clean dry non-conductive surface like a rubber blanket or other insulating material.
Then knock, pry, or drag the victim from the conductor with nonconductive material which can be a dry wooden board, nonmetallic conduit, insulated tools, hot sticks, shotgun sticks or some nonconductive rope or an insulated extension cord. Loop the cord around their body or the grasping arm and pull strong enough to break their grip.
The victim needs to be cared for until qualified emergency response personnel arrive. Check for breathing and pulse and if necessary administer CPR or use an AED up to your level of training. Once CPR has been started, continue until emergency personnel arrive.
Stay with the victim until help arrives and conduct additional first aid, according to training. If conscious, keep the victim still, warm and comfortable, they could suffer from insufficient blood circulation and go into physiological shock. They could also suffer heartbeat irregularities or a heart attack up to several hours later even if the shock isn’t enough to immediately disrupt the heartbeat.
Other Safety School articles that examine the more academic concepts of occupational safety: