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Electrical safety in the research environment Lincoln B. Hudson Electronics Engineering Technician Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Queensland University of Technology l.hudson@qut.edu.au Electricity We use it every day to improve our lives It can help to save a life

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electrical safety in the research environment

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

electricity
Electricity
  • We use it every day to improve our lives
  • It can help to save a life
  • It can kill
standards and legislation
Standards and Legislation
  • Australian Standards
  • Acts of State Parliaments
  • Ambiguity between Standards and Acts
  • Different rules apply in different States
  • Ambiguity within the Acts
standards and legislation5
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 you7
“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
slide9

A

N

E

slide10

A

N

E

the safety switch will always save you11
“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
“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
“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
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
Custom Equipment
  • Overseas equipment
  • ‘Home made’ equipment
  • Equipment ‘inherited’ from other projects
  • May have been hastily constructed
custom equipment19
Custom Equipment

12V wiring

150V wiring

remote sites
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
  • Batteries can release explosive gasses and toxic liquids
the operating theatre
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
Rush jobs
  • When time is tight, there may be a temptation to cut corners to get the job done

Bare

wires

conclusions
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
conclusions26
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
Acknowledgements
  • Co-authors:
  • Kimble R Dunster
  • David Clement