New Whitepaper Provides Roadmap for Reducing Electrical Risks

The Risk Control Hierarchy (RCH) in the ANSI-Z10 standard is designed to provide electrical safety professionals with a roadmap for setting the right safety objectives that result in the reduction of electrical risks. Focusing on this roadmap, a new whitepaper written by Phil Allen, president and owner of Grace Engineered Products, a Davenport, Iowa-based provider of data process interfaces and "thru-door electrical safety devices," details how applying the RCH to any electrical safety program will increase both safety and employee productivity.

"The shrouded mystery of electricity compels many safety managers to depend upon plant electrical maintenance or engineering departments to manage their electrical safety program," Allen writes in the paper. "The RCH helps to bridge the gap between these departments."

Allen says that applying the hierarchy to electrical safety shows safety managers the top six ways to reduce electrical hazards, from the most effective way to the least:
1. Elimination: removing any exposure to voltage
2. Substitution: replacing higher risks with lower risks
3. Engineering Controls: reinventing ways to control electrical energy
4. Awareness: revealing all sources of electrical energy
5. Administrative Controls: regulations that teach personnel how to be safe around electrical energy (NFPA 70e)
6. Personal Protection: reducing risks of working on live voltage

Although each step of the hierarchy has importance to overall safety, risk reduction varies between the steps, Allen notes. "For example, the top three steps are designed to control the risk before it gets in close proximity to the employee, while it is assumed with the bottom three steps that the employee is already exposed to the electrical energy and needs to be kept safe while he is close to the hazard. The NFPA 70e--along with its PPE requirements--have been highly effective at increasing electrical safety; however, they are the least effective means of improving electrical safety," Allen writes, emphasizing the distinction. "In other words, once you have done everything possible to reduce the risk to its lowest level, then you must focus on protecting the worker from the residual risk. Protecting workers from residual risks is a big emphasis of the NFPA 70e. The most comprehensive long-term electrical safety solutions will be found at the top steps of the RCH."

To read or download the whitepaper, "Risk Control Hierarchy Clarifies Electrical Safety," in its entirety, go to www.graceport.com/files/RCH.pdf.

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