Whether you are working on electrical equipment or working on other do-it-yourself projects, there are some rules that apply to all situations.
1. Use the proper tools for the job.
2. Remove clutter as much as possible…keep the work area clean to avoid tripping over items that could have been removed.
3. Wear proper footwear, dust masks, eye protection, hearing protection, gloves, etc. to suit the job.
4. Make sure ladders are in good repair and do not stand on the top or second from the top step.
5. Be aware of who is near you. This is especially important if young children are near you. Do not leave power tools where a curious child may decide to play with them. When working on ladders be aware of what is happening below.
6. Be aware of the risks present when chemical solvents or flammable liquids are present. Ensure that there is proper ventilation and make sure chemicals are always out of reach of children. If you must smoke, take a walk outside if there are flammable liquids inside (or fumes).
7. Work at a sensible pace. On many projects, especially where mixed material such as cement, grout, etc. begins to dry, people panic and try to work faster. In the case of mixed material, try not to mix batches larger than you can work with safely. For electrical work, keep in mind that you will need light to work by. If you start a job too late in the day it may be dusk with the power still off. Plan ahead and have another source of light to work by.
8. Avoid awkward or heavy lifting. Ask for help with the heavy stuff such as drywall. Also, avoid awkward stretching that can twist your back. This happens a lot when people are on a ladder that is not properly positioned for the job.
9. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Especially when using ladders it is common for people to risk injury by trying to do it all on their own. If you need somebody to hold a ladder you should wait until there is somebody available to help. In the case of an extension ladder, you may just need somebody to steady the ladder while you climb up and tie it securely. When the work is done you may need help again for a few minutes to move the ladder so ask for help. The hospitals have too many heroes already. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve seen somebody lose control of an extension ladder. In some cases, other people have been injured by the falling ladder. In other cases, there are no injuries but significant property damage.
Electricity can certainly kill you. Before you attempt an electrical project you should keep in mind that electricians require years of practical training and months of classroom work. The actual training time varies in different states and in different provinces, but 4 years is usual, with about 8 months of this spent in classrooms and the rest working full time on job sites. After the 4 years, the electrician is regarded as qualified (Journeyman), but he/she will always be learning. Nobody knows it all. As a Master Electrician with 32 years of experience, I don’t know it all.
Don’t expect to be able to work as fast as a qualified electrician. The work is physically demanding. You will spend a lot of time climbing ladders and moving ladders. You need to be able to stand comfortably on a ladder while leaving both hands free to do the work.
After a day of climbing ladders while wearing a tool belt you may wish that you had left the job to an electrical contractor.