electrical safety in the research environment l.
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  1. Electrical safety in theresearch environment Lincoln B. Hudson Electronics Engineering Technician Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Queensland University of Technology l.hudson@qut.edu.au

  2. Electricity • We use it every day to improve our lives • It can help to save a life • It can kill

  3. Standards and Legislation • Australian Standards • Acts of State Parliaments • Ambiguity between Standards and Acts • Different rules apply in different States • Ambiguity within the Acts

  4. “It follows the letter of the Law so it must be safe” This is a Myth!

  5. Standards and Legislation • It is permissible under the law to not test new equipment before use in the workplace.

  6. “The Safety Switch will always save you” • This is a myth !

  7. “The Safety Switch will always save you” • “An RCD (Residual Current Device) is designed to protect against electrocution in a narrow range of circumstances only. The RCD measures an out of balance between the active and neutral current only.” • http://www.a1testingandtagging.com.au/faq.html

  8. How does a safety switchwork?

  9. A N E

  10. A N E

  11. “The Safety Switch will always save you” • The safety switch will not save you in all circumstances • The safety switch should not be used as the primary safety mechanism • Using a safety switch does not mean other safety measures can be ignored • How do you know if the safety switch you are using is working if you can not test it?

  12. “It’s been tested and tagged,so it must be safe” • All equipment should be tested and tagged at appropriate intervals • An in-date tag is not a guarantee of safety

  13. “It’s been tested and tagged,so it must be safe”

  14. “You don’t need to test the lead”

  15. “Electrical safety - Can’t someone else do it?” • Most electrical safety problems are due to physical damage, which can happen after being tested and tagged

  16. Physical inspection

  17. The Research Environment • Some work involves using unfamiliar equipment • Sometimes everyday equipment is used for an unusual task • Use of custom equipment • These amplify the dangers

  18. Custom Equipment • Overseas equipment • ‘Home made’ equipment • Equipment ‘inherited’ from other projects • May have been hastily constructed

  19. Custom Equipment 12V wiring 150V wiring

  20. Remote Sites • Research can involve going out into the field with electrical equipment • This can involve the use of generators, batteries, or both • Mains power outdoors creates new hazards • Batteries add an element of danger

  21. Batteries • Batteries can release explosive gasses and toxic liquids

  22. The Operating Theatre • This very specific venue for research presents some interesting and unique problems • Electrical equipment is connected to patients • Extra care must be taken when designing equipment and systems for this environment

  23. Rush jobs • When time is tight, there may be a temptation to cut corners to get the job done Bare wires

  24. CONCLUSIONS • Move away from complacent attitudes and cultural mores of your organisation • Dispense with petty arguments over rules • Tackle the problem of electrical safety using some kind of risk assessment process • Use Standards and Legislation as a starting point on which to build safety

  25. CONCLUSIONS • Ask yourself “what would a reasonable person do to make this activity safe?” • We should do everything that is reasonably possible to ensure a safe research environment • The only thing that really matters is doing everything we can so everyone can go home at the end of the day in one piece

  26. Acknowledgements • Co-authors: • Kimble R Dunster • David Clement

  27. Thank you