With the unprecedented flooding in both Auckland and Waitomo Districts, Master Electricians advises members to take the necessary precautions around accessing and repairing flood damaged electrical systems.
We’ve collated the below links which provide precautionary steps and information around working and accessing flooded and potentially flooded electrical systems.
- Safety while working in a disaster area
- Master Electricians Employee Assistance Programme
- Hazards to be aware of
- Things to consider during clean-up and recovery
- Electri Check sheet
Contact our Regional Managers and Technical Support is available for more information.
Safety when working in disaster areas.
With thousands of homes flooded across Auckland and Waitomo, electrical contractors will be called on to carry out safety checks and re-energize properties. But working in recently flooded areas poses challenges that most businesses to not regularly encounter.
Make sure you or your workers carry out a risk assessment before any job. You are more likely to come across unusual risks than you would under normal work circumstances, including:
- Water contamination
- Distressed domestic animals
- Displaced wild life
- Asbestos exposure
- Mould exposure
- Biological and chemical hazards
- Working around demolition
- Mental Health
- Working at heights
- Operating machinery in flooded areas
You should be alert to wildlife that may have taken refuge in the building, structure or furniture.
As an employer, you must reduce the risk of death, injury and illness to yourself and your workers.
Flood water is not clean and can contain contaminants including sewage, fuel and oil. If an employee is planning to work or travel to work in an area that’s impacted by flooding, it’s important to assess the potential for hazardous conditions and what you can do to mitigate that risk. Natural disasters are stressful times. Make sure you consider your employees, and your own, mental health.
Master Electricians Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
It’s always important to reach out if you need someone to talk to during this unprecedented weather event. You or your staff may have been directly effected by the flooding. You might be finding the pressures of an increased workload. Members and their employees have access to free EAP services, log in to the members only section for contact details
Hazards to be aware of
As an employer, you must reduce the risk of death, injury and illness to yourself, your employees and others (including volunteers) involved in clean-up and recovery activities.
As an employee, if you are planning to work or travel to work in an area that’s impacted by flooding, assess the potential for hazardous conditions and what you can do to mitigate that risk.
These may include:
- Turn off all switches at the main electrical switchboard, including the Main Switch.
Unplug all your appliances and if you can, lift them up so they will remain clear of any floodwater that may inundate your property.
- Follow Lock out and tag out procedures
- Turn your solar system off at the inverter and then turn off at the switchboard (all switches on the switchboard should be in the OFF position). The solar system will have information on shut down procedures.
- Turn solar batteries off. Follow the shutdown procedure which will be close to battery system.
Do not attempt to disassemble the battery or open any of the panels.
Employees involved in storm and flood recovery work should maintain good personal hygiene. You should always:
- wash your hands after contact with mud, flood water and contaminated items and equipment
- wear enclosed footwear, protective eyewear, gloves, and suitable clothing
- take precautions to avoid mosquito bites
- clean and cover cuts and wounds.
Storms and floods can bury, move, or damage hazardous substance containers including paints, pesticides, cleaners, and fuels. They come in various forms – powders, solids, liquids and gases. Hazardous substances must be handled and disposed of safely by:
- identifying substances and their hazards using labels and markings – seek expert advice if the container cannot be identified
- avoiding contact with unknown substances or containers
- separating hazardous substances from general waste
- wearing personal protective equipment such as protective eyewear, chemical resistant gloves, enclosed footwear, and a suitable respirator
- Be aware of contaminated water, broken glass and debris, damaged electricity supplies and asbestos
- Employers must ensure work is properly planned and coordinated with regular communication, sufficient training and supervision for workers and volunteers, and regular rest breaks to manage fatigue.
- Common hazards include sewage containing harmful bacteria that may have overflowed inside a building, wet, slippery and unstable surfaces, and wild animals including rodents,
- Damaged gas and electricity appliances are another hazard. They must be avoided until declared safe.
- Use battery-operated torches instead of candles. Open flames could be dangerous if gas has collected inside a building.
Things to consider during clean-up and recovery include:
- Before starting any task, take time to identify potential hazards and consider how to remove or control the associated risks.
- Ensure work is properly planned and coordinated with regular communication, sufficient supervision and regular rest breaks.
- Only use equipment that is in good condition, fit for purpose and has appropriate guards in place.
- Have appropriate personal protective equipment for each task (for example boots, gloves, eye and ear protection, hats, sun protective clothing and high visibility vests) and ensure it is worn correctly.
- Ensure machinery and vehicle operators are competent and experienced in using specific equipment for the intended task.
- Clear debris from areas where vehicles are operating, implement traffic management plans and be aware of unstable ground and potential washouts hidden by standing water.
- Use powered machinery for lifting large or heavy items, particularly if they are waterlogged.
- Identify any likely asbestos containing materials or dangerous chemicals.
- Ensure children are well supervised and away from areas where work is going on.
Link to Electri check form:
The Electri check form is a downloadable PDF form, useful for guiding you through the necessary checks for inspecting a property. Download the Electri check form here