By Ron Spataro
As your workforce continues to turn over, are your new hires prepared to avoid the hazards of electricity?
If there is an electrical accident in your facility, or you are in a high-risk industry, you’ve got pretty good chances of getting a visit from OSHA.
In a one-year period, OSHA issued $26,460,902 in penalties for violations of electrical requirements. Because OSHA regulations are not updated with industry standards, when a violation of a recognized hazard occurs, OSHA’s inspectors will issue citations under the General Duty Clause. This clause requires employers to provide a workplace free from “recognized hazards,” as identified by industry consensus standards such as the NEC, NFPA 70E and IEEE.
On-the-job apprentice training is a proven, effective method of growing your staff. The new technician can learn a lot from the experienced ones, but what do you do when veteran electrical maintenance personnel are leaving the job market in waves? Burdening your experienced technician with a “less experienced” apprentice can lead to gaps in the knowledge transfer and can be dangerous.
When your experienced technician starts with a new apprentice, do they skip right to application? What’s the procedure for this, where to find it and what to do when this happens, etc.? While this type of focus is essential to continuing work during training, as a starting point for apprentices, it is fundamentally flawed.
To grow an effective electrical maintenance technician, you must start by building a foundation of fundamental knowledge—those things veterans take for granted and may not adequately pass on. The following fundamental subjects should be covered in your apprentice program:
- What is the difference between AC and DC electricity?
- How do you calculate voltage, wattage, resistance and current?
- How do you interpret the readings on a multimeter?
A technician cannot fully understand the implications of changes he/she makes to a circuit without this fundamental knowledge.
All electrical maintenance boils down to one essential question: “It’s not working; why?” Each technician relies on troubleshooting procedures to locate the causes of failure—and there is a logical way to locate those causes without “chasing the voltage.” Inadequate troubleshooting skills can cost your organization. Staying compliant is very important, but worker safety is essential.
Ron Spataro is Director of Marketing, AVO Training Institute.