Power quality analysis could be beneficial to a huge range of building owners and businesses across the UK. You may not realize that you are suffering from poor quality power – it isn't always obvious – but it can cause all manner of problems. If you've noticed pieces of equipment mysteriously failing or even more serious issues like the complete burnout a previously fine piece of machinery, power quality might be the culprit.
It’s never been easier to rent or buy power quality analyzers, and those who are experienced and qualified to work with electricity and electrical devices may wish to use one to analyze the quality of the power themselves. Doing so can be a good idea, but it’s important to do it safely. The dangers surrounding electricity are obvious, but if this is your first time analyzing power quality, it’s worth going over the basics to ensure you don’t make any mistakes (learn more in Staying Safe with Electrical Supplies).
Here are seven steps you can follow to safely analyze your power quality.
Step One: Get to Know Your Equipment
If you’ve never used a power quality analyzer before, or if you’ve never used this particular model, take the time to get to know the equipment. It might seem similar to something that you've used in the past, but that’s not an excuse for carrying out the work without a proper understanding of the device. Even those who are very familiar with the basic idea behind these analyzers should take a long read through the instructions to ensure that they are following the correct safety procedures and precautions.
Working with electricity, you need to have complete confidence in the equipment you are using. And you can’t have that if you don’t know your equipment.
Step Two: Understand the Site
Once you feel completely confident with the analyzer, it's time to learn about the environment you are going to be working in. Every site is different, and some can have unusual design features or elements of risk that you might not have foreseen or have never worked with before. It you are working on a site that is brand new to you, make sure that someone takes the time to give you a full briefing on the on-site equipment.
It’s important to remember that not all of the risks are related to electrical hazards. Many rooms containing electrical equipment could also have materials such as asbestos or mercury which have their own specific dangers that you need to be aware of (see Five Leading Electrical Hazards and How to Avoid Them).
Step Three: Keep a Tidy Toolbox
It might seem like a trivial issue, but keeping a neat and tidy toolbox can be essential. This can apply anytime that you work around electricity, but it is especially true when working in rooms with live power.
Many tools are conductors of electricity, so you need to be aware of their location at all times. Leaving something on the floor might not seem like the biggest risk, but if you accidentally knock it into something with live electricity running through it, the consequences can be dire. You need to be able to know just by looking at your toolbox if something is out of place (find out How Lean Manufacturing Can Help Your Company Succeed).
Step Four: Conduct a Proper Risk Assessment
Risk assessments might seem irrelevant for this kind of task, but they are absolutely essential when you work with electrical devices.
If you are asked to go on site, make sure that someone has carried out a proper assessment. And don’t rely on an assessment from quite a while ago. It is vital that your assessment is up-to-date.
Step Five: Carry Out Thorough Safety Checks
Following on from step four, before you enter any area containing electrical equipment you need to carry out all of the sensible safety checks. Before you enter a room, stop at the doorway and survey the area. Does anything look unusual or out of place? If you have worked with electricity before, you should trust your instincts. And remember to never work in an environment that you do not feel safe in (learn How to Refuse Unsafe Work).
Step Six: Wear the Right Gear
Always remember that you need to be wearing the right gear any time you are going to be working in the vicinity of electricity. PPE can save your life when things go wrong or your make some sort of mistake.
Depending on the job, it may be essential for you to use an arc flash helmet and face shield. You should also consider suitably rated electricians gloves. Once again you should refer back to your risk assessment so that you can understand exactly what you need to wear to keep you safe.
Step Seven: Work Sensibly
Finally – but perhaps most importantly – you need to be aware that your working practice is the biggest determinant of your safety. It is those people who get lazy and careless that are most likely to be at risk when working with electricity. Complacency can be extremely dangerous.
You need to be entirely focused on the task at hand. Any distractions or carelessness can lead to you making errors. Working sensibly is one of the ultimate keys to safety (learn more about Safety and Overconfidence).
Analyzing your power quality is worth your while – unless someone gets hurt doing it. Following these steps and taking the proper precautions will ensure that everything goes according to plan.