The main ways electricity hurts people in the workplace are:  

  • contact with exposed live parts causing electric shock and burns – this could be indirect, like exposed leads touching a metal floor or roof  

  • faults causing fires 

  • electricity igniting a flammable or explosive atmosphere – in a spray paint booth, for example. 

High-risk electrical equipment 

Some equipment is higher risk than others. Portable electrical equipment can get damaged easily, especially when moved often, like: 

  • plugs 

  • sockets 

  • electrical cables 

  • extension leads. 

Conditions with higher risk 

The risks for electricity are greatest in harsh conditions, for example: 

  • outdoors or in wet surroundings where equipment can get wet and damaged 

  • cramped spaces with earthed metalwork – such as inside a tank or bin – where it may be difficult to avoid shock in an electrical fault. 

Higher-risk workplaces for electricity 

Higher-risk workplaces are where the environment is likely to damage equipment. 

Some higher-risk workplaces include: 

  • wet or dusty areas 

  • outdoors 

  • workplaces that use corrosive substances 

  • commercial kitchens 

  • manufacturing environments. 

There are extra WHS duties if your workplace is higher risk than others. 

Lower-risk workplaces for electricity 

Lower-risk workplaces are free of conditions likely to damage to electrical equipment. 

These workplaces are dry, clean and well-organised. Some lower-risk workplaces include: 

  • an office 

  • retail shop 

  • classroom. 

Although regular testing and inspecting electrical equipment is not required in lower-risk workplaces, you may still want to test and inspect to ensure it’s safe.