There is a perception among some companies that electrical system tests are unnecessary, disruptive and costly, according to electrical contractor and Avid Group’s business development manager Aaron Teo.
Safe Work Australia reported that an average of 11 Australian workers were killed in Australia between 2003 and 2015 through contact with electricity, and that the risk of injury and death increased when working with electrical equipment outdoors, in damp environments or cramped conditions.
But this month’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work (28 April) is a timely reminder for mining companies to get their electrical systems checked, Teo said.
“No one talks about electricity, until there’s a major disruption or incident in their workplace,” he added.
Five electrical tests are recommended for heavy industry. The first one is to conduct a yearly audit to obtain a detailed assessment of the entire power network, update electrical drawings and get recommendations for new equipment or modifications to existing equipment.
Routine maintenance of equipment should also be regularly checked and maintained to ensure they are in serviceable condition and any possibility of an unplanned failure is mitigated.
The third electrical test is an assessment of the configuration of the existing electrical distribution system as well as testing points of failures.
Companies should also conduct a load flow assessment to demonstrate where electrical assets may be over- or under-utilised, identify which electrical assets are critical and which require upgrading to support connected loads.
The last test involves an equipment lifecycle assessment which tests the current condition of the existing electrical distribution system, age, availability of spares and compliance with the applicable standards.
These tests can be done at night, with minimal or no disruption to normal business operations, according to Teo.
“Too many companies take their electrical systems for granted – they’re putting workers’ lives at risk and exposing themselves to big fines and costly repair bills,” he said.
“Regular testing and maintenance of systems and equipment significantly reduces these risks.”