Electrical safety in theresearch environment Lincoln B. Hudson Electronics Engineering Technician Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Queensland University of Technology email@example.com
Electricity • We use it every day to improve our lives • It can help to save a life • It can kill
Standards and Legislation • Australian Standards • Acts of State Parliaments • Ambiguity between Standards and Acts • Different rules apply in different States • Ambiguity within the Acts
“It follows the letter of the Law so it must be safe” This is a Myth!
Standards and Legislation • It is permissible under the law to not test new equipment before use in the workplace.
“The Safety Switch will always save you” • This is a myth !
“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
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“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?
“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
“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
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
Custom Equipment • Overseas equipment • ‘Home made’ equipment • Equipment ‘inherited’ from other projects • May have been hastily constructed
Custom Equipment 12V wiring 150V wiring
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
Batteries • Batteries can release explosive gasses and toxic liquids
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
Rush jobs • When time is tight, there may be a temptation to cut corners to get the job done Bare wires
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
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
Acknowledgements • Co-authors: • Kimble R Dunster • David Clement