Myths & Misconceptions About Electrical Safety

The objective of the management of electrical risk is to reduce this risk to a minimum according to shared standards and to prevent potential negative effects. In the electrical engineering industry there are many situations in which a real danger may occur, given that the workers in the industrial plant must manage electrical equipment.

The competent legislations must therefore manage multiple aspects to guarantee:


– the correct use of all electrical equipment, considering the environmental and operational conditions.

– the correct use of materials.

– the maintenance process, aimed at ensuring the safety of the work environment over time.

– the adoption of specific protection measures in the field of worker safety, including in this procedure, equipment and professional training.


However, as in every area, even in the electrical systems industry there are many myths and misunderstandings that are handed on to the work environment, which in the end is the place where the experience is formed.

The aim of this article is to promote the correct information in the electrical engineering industry. The original article was written by James R. White – Senior Member IEEE, to which we refer to summarize the essential parts:


  • The incident energy is so high you can’t even walk into the powerhouse without PPE.” Another common misconception is “You need arc flash PPE to just walk through a room with operating electrical equipment”. It is not necessary to wear arc-rated PPE if you are near an energized equipment. Even if the risk exists, does not create the need for arc-rated PPE, unless you are interacting with the equipment in a manner that could cause failure. This is because the Electrical equipment rated under 600 volts that has been properly installed in compliance with all the standards, does not present an electrical arc flash hazard, unless it is operated in a manner that could cause failure.


  • Safety regulations are not like construction standards (IEC, NEC, …), where once the facility is built under the current codes and standards it does not require updating, unless the facility undergoes a major renovation. Safety regulations enact safe work practices that evolve and need to be continually applied.


  • Experience counts, but not always. The statistics confirm this data in the field of electrical system safety. The idea that only through experience can be considered a skilled worker is not true. Being qualified means possessing a lot of technical skills as well as skills and knowledge in terms of security.


  • An obvious myth is the totally unfounded belief that only people whose title includes “electrician” or similar need training. According to OSHA – the administration of occupational safety and health in the USA – training is essential for all those working in the field, being exposed to risk.


  • Hospitals have less competence when talking about victims of electric shocks. The number of victims for electric shock is lower than that for common accidents.


  • If you touch a 20A circuit breaker, you will receive a current of 20A throughout your body. This is a phrase that is perhaps repeated by the team leaders to ensure that everyone works in compliance with the rules relating to security. But once one realizes his falsehood, the opposite effect is irreparably obtained. It is quoted: “Only the current allowed by the law of OHM will flow through a person. That current is dictated by the tension divided by the resistance of the body. This resistance is generally recognized to be around 1,000 Ω (6) for the average man. There are factors that will tend to change this value or down, such as bone mass, walking surface, shoe material, wet environment, etc., but it is a good number to begin with. At 120 V and with a resistance of 1,000 Ω in the circuit, current flow would be limited to a maximum of 120 mA. This current value could certainly be lethal and should not be overlooked as harmless, but it should also be used to instruct new workers in the electric field for the real risks of their work” .


  • Grounding is useless. There is nothing more wrong than such a statement. Grounding is a fundamental component of electrical safety.


Safety is a fundamental principle, especially when we talk about electrical safety. Effective training, compliance of the equipment with the standards, the correct use of the materials, maintenance and use of own knowledge can help.


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