Electricity, Sustainable Development!

We depend on electricity for continued growth and development. We use electricity for lighting, heating, and cooling our homes, preparing our food, powering, and operating our appliances, electronics, machinery, telecommunication, and transportation systems. We use electricity every day for almost everything, but what is electricity anyway? 

Electricity is the flow of electrical power or charge. It is a secondary energy source, which means that it comes from the conversion of other sources of energy, like coal, natural gas, nuclear power, other natural sources (hydro, solar, wind, etc.) and oil. 

Photo by Eric Anada.jpg
Photo by Eric Anada

Can we survive without it?

Ancient civilizations survived without electricity. According to the World Bank “one billion people worldwide still (⅓ of the world’s population) live their daily lives without electricity”, but the use of electricity has contributed to huge growth and development in our society and for ⅔ of the world’s population. Quite frankly, we can’t imagine our lives without it. 

According to the World Bank “the number of people gaining access to electricity has been accelerating since 2010 to around 118 million each year,” but hundreds of millions of people still live with unreliable or expensive power. In order for us as a global society to meet our sustainable development goal, we need to make greater efforts to ensure that access to electricity is affordable, reliable and sustainable.   

Common electrical issues 

Some common electrical issues that most of us experience are; circuit breaker overload, overlamping, surges, power sags and dips, poor insulation, etc. Common electrical issues may not be simple, and electrical issues are best solved by professionals. An electrician is a professional who is skilled in installing, maintaining, and repairing wiring, fixtures and infrastructure. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), there are four main injuries caused by electricity:

  • Electrocution (fatal)
  • Electric shock
  • Burns
  • Falls

The Canadian Standards Association CSA Z462, Workplace Electrical Safety Standard, provides methods to identify electrical hazards and offers best safety practices. Employers need to develop an electrical safety program or make sure to add a section to a safety management system. It is essential to consult the legislation where the company operates for compliance and to keep employees safe. 

Photo by Andre Moura.jpg
Photo by Andre Moura

Electrical tips for a safe workplace

  • Regular electrical inspection for identifying any issues
  • Always use ladders made with non-conductive side rails (e.g. fibreglass) 
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters to interrupt the electrical circuit in order to avoid injuries 
  • Do not use cords with exposed wiring
  • Keep the paths clear to electrical panels 
  • Lock out the electricity before starting the repair and lock it in when it is safe to do so 
  • Use of labels and signage to inform workers of dangers
  • Invest in training employees to teach safety practices
  • Develop an emergency response procedure

For certified Electricians in your area, please check the Better Business Bureau and search for accredited businesses near you. 

By Gabriela Mancas, Occupational Health and Safety Consultant

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