The electric utility industry is responsible for the distribution of electric energy through the establishment of generating, transmitting, distribution, and the sale for primarily public use. Electric utility companies can be publicly or privately owned, following services that deal with electric power. Heavily regulated with price controls and government operations, the electrical sector varies depending on the economic system of a country or region.
Commonly split into four processes, the electric utilities industry includes power stations, electric power transmissions, electricity retailing, and distribution.
There are several methods to convert forms of energy into electrical energy. Electricity generation is the stage prior to end user delivery – produced within power plants. Transmission takes part in the general movement of electrical energy from the power plant to a substation through the transmission network. Distribution carries electricity from the transmission system to individual consumers. The transmission substation can change voltage from high to low, or the reverse. These are monitored and operated through electric utility companies.
Electric utility workers face countless hazards while performing approaching daily tasks. By handling high and low voltage transformers, simple and repetitive responsibilities can still result in severe injury.
For example, working near or underneath overhead power lines can still cause arc flash even though the machinery might not have specifically touched the energy conductors.
The most important hazards associated with the electric power industry are:
Engineers, electricians, and overhead line workers are most exposed to electrical hazards through handling and maintaining electrically-powered equipment. Identifying and eliminating electrical hazards helps mitigate the risk of electrical accidents and injuries. A few common electrical workplace hazard identifications include:
Minimizing these risks can increase the protection from arc flash and electrocution.
There are many different types of PPE for electrical environments such as overheard power lines, energized equipment, and facility power systems. All electrical worker PPE must always have arc rated apparel to protect against arc flash. Many injuries occur when non-FR clothing ignites and fuels the flame. With self-extinguishing and insulated fabric, FR/AR clothing protects electrical workers from severe burn injuries.
All arc-rated clothing is flame resistant, but not all flame-resistant clothing is arc-rated. Arc-rated clothing is exposed to a series of arc flashes to determine how much energy the fabric can block. The importance of a created garment with both FR and AR protection increases the clothing with ignition resistance, offers heat resistance, or self-extinguishes. The multi-hazard compliant garment fabric combines protective properties needed for short-term thermal hazard exposure.
Incorporating a risk assessment through levels of protection and educating employees on the proper care and storage of PPE enables longer lasting protection through the inspection for damage and adequacy immediately before each use.