Emergency Response Plans for Electric Shock Incidents
Every moment counts after an electric shock incident. Having an emergency response plan will help you respond promptly.
Electrical injuries are responsible for approximately 1,000 deaths every year in the United States. At least 30,000 non-fatal shock incidents also take place each year.
No matter how careful you and your employees are, there’s always a chance that someone in your workplace will experience an electric shock incident. Knowing how to handle these situations is critical to protecting your staff and minimizing the damage.
Why You Need an Emergency Response Plan
The sooner you take action after someone experiences an electric shock (or any other accident, for that matter), the less painful the consequences will be.
The more time you and your staff spend scrambling, the longer it takes for injured employees to get the care they need. By taking prompt action, you can reduce the severity of the injuries, minimize the damage caused to property and structures, and develop increased resilience for future incidents.
Components of an Effective Response Plan
Having an emergency response plan in place is undeniably helpful. For the best outcomes, however, you must take the time to create a detailed response protocol.
Here are some of the most critical components to include.
Every emergency response plan should include detailed, yet easy to understand, instructions.
For example, there should be instructions on how to use a defibrillator and perform CPR, what to do and not do after an electric shock occurs, and who to call.
Consider sharing these instructions in multiple languages, with accompanying pictures. That way, you don’t have to worry about language barriers or limited reading comprehension skills getting in the way of employees having critical safety information when they need it most.
(Learn more about CPR Certification: Why You Need It, How to Get It)
The emergency response plan should also inform employees where specific equipment, such as an AED or fire extinguisher, is located.
Make sure these locations are clearly labeled, too, so that people don’t have to search high and low to find what they need. Remember, timing is everything in emergency situations. The faster people can get what they need, the better the outcomes.
While the first step is usually to call 911, the emergency response plan should also include contact details for other key players, such as supervisors and managers, who need to know about the incident.
Employees should know who they should report to after an accident so that it can be documented appropriately and steps can be taken to prevent a similar situation in the future.
Visibility and Accessibility
The emergency response plan should be highly visible and easily accessible. For example, you might hang a poster with instructions and contact details on the wall in areas where electrical equipment is regularly used.
That way, people can reference it quickly if they need to know what to do and won’t have to rely on their memory in an emergency situation.
(Learn more in Sign Blindness Is Real - Here's What You Can Do About It)
How to Assess Electrical Hazards in Your Work Environment
Every workplace should have an emergency response plan in place, especially those that regularly work with electrical equipment. However, you should also take steps to reduce the likelihood that you’ll need to use that plan by carefully assessing the environment for electrical hazards.
Here are some tips for identifying and managing hazards in your work environment:
- Look for equipment and wiring that could pose a risk of electric shock, including damaged cords, overloaded electrical outlets, and exposed wires.
- Review your region’s electrical codes and make sure your facility is abiding by all of them. If you’re not, make a concrete plan to change that as soon as possible.
- Conduct inspections regularly, watching for signs of wear and tear on electrical equipment, tools, and machinery, as well as frayed wires, loose connections, and outdated equipment.
Immediate Actions to Take in the Event of an Electric Shock
The instructions in your electric shock emergency response plan should list the immediate actions one should take after someone experiences an electric shock.
The following are some basic steps everyone should be trained to take:
- Do not touch the person right away
- Identify the source of the shock and turn off the power
- If you can't turn off the power, use a non-conductive object (such as a wooden plank or a plastic broomhandle) to move the person
- Call 911 immediately or tell someone nearby to call
- Assess the person to see if they are breathing and their heart is beating
- If the person has stopped breathing and is unconscious, get an AED
- If you are confident the power supply has been shut off or the person affected has been moved away from it, start performing chest compressions
- Apply the AED pads and follow the machine’s instructions to deliver a shock to the heart
- Barricade the area and prevent unauthorized people from entering
Conclusion: Prioritize Safety in Electric Shock Incidents
Accidents happen every day, and the outcomes are worse if you're caught off guard. It's far better to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
If an employee is injured in an electric shock incident, time is of the essence. You and your team must act quickly to get the injured person the proper support.
Take the time to follow the steps shared above and create an emergency response plan now, before an accident occurs. That way, everyone will know what to do and can minimize the damage caused.