Winter & Storm Season Creates Risk for Workers Using Portable Generators

During the winter season, many workers will be required to use portable generators as part of their jobs. Portable generators may be used on construction sites or in emergency situations by disaster response teams. Portable generators are also used by homeowners, retail and commercial establishments in the event of power failure.

These generators provide power when people need it, but they also present some significant dangers.

Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys urge employees who are working with portable generators in any capacity to exercise great care in their operation. It is also essential for employers to follow Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) guidelines to help reduce the risk that their employees will suffer injury. 1402897_high_voltage_towers.jpg

The Risks of Using a Generator
Generators can be dangerous in any environment, whether in a construction site or used to provide power during an outage after a storm. Some of the possible risks associated with portable generator use include:

  • The risk of electrocution or shock as a result of the generator’s improper power use or as a result of other electrical systems being energized by the generator.
  • The risk of exposure to carbon monoxide from the exhaust of the generator .
  • The risk of fire due to the improper storage of generator fuel or due to errors or omissions during the refueling process.

These are just some of the risks that workers face when called upon to repair or operate a generator as part of their jobs. With a volatile mix of electric current and gas fuel sources, generators are undeniably dangerous unless you know how to use them and exercise caution at all times.

Safety Tips
Workers and employers both need to be aware of the proper work practices when using a generator. Employers need to have guidelines in place outlining best practices and they need to provide workers with the training and safety tools they need to use generators safely. Workers, likewise, need to follow the safety guidelines set forth and be cautious when operating the generator.

OSHA suggest some specific safe work practices that will also help to reduce the risk of a workplace accident resulting from the use of a portable generator. According to OSHA’s guidelines for protecting yourself when using a portable generator:

  • Portable generators should always be inspected prior to use. They should be checked for loose fuel lines or for any damage that might have occurred while the generator was transported.
  • All manufacturer use and safety instructions should be followed when operating the generator.
  • The generator should never be directly connected to any type of electrical system unless a transfer switch has been properly installed and is in working order.
  • Any appliances plugged directly into the generator should be plugged in using cords supplied by the manufacturer. When extension cords are needed, they should be heavy-duty and undamaged.
  • The manufacturer instructions on the use of ground-fault circuit interrupters (CFCI’s) must always be followed.
  • The generator should be shut down before refueling.

If these safety tips are followed each and every time a portable generator is used, the risk of workplace accidents may be reduced. If a workplace accident does occur as a result of generator use, the injured worker may be able to make a workers’ compensation claim for benefits.

If you or someone you love is out of work and facing a workers’ compensation claim, Lee Law Offices, P.A. offers free appointments to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Protecting Your Rights as a N.C. Employee, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, Sept. 11, 2012

Black Friday Madness Ups the Risk of Rock Hill Work Injuries, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, Nov. 19, 2012

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