How to become a qualified electrical worker

Have you ever tried to figure out if you or someone you work with would be considered a qualified electrical worker?

Or did you already think you were qualified through your many years of service with the company?

Well… in either case you might want to keep reading because most of the prerequisites for being a qualified worker are not being met by a staggering amount of people who are performing electrical work.

In this article I’ll go over everything it takes to be able to call yourself qualified.

Let’s begin with the definition of a qualified worker

Qualified person (worker) — one who has demonstrated skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to identify the hazards and reduce the associated risk.

Got it?

Good… now on to my next article…

Oh wait, you mean you are more confused than before you started reading? Well, alright then, let’s carry on.

The definition can be broken down into two key elements:

  • demonstrating skills; and

  • demonstrating knowledge;

Then it’s further broken down into specific categories that one needs to demonstrate these skills and knowledge.

  • construction and operation;

  • installations;

  • identify hazards; and

  • reduce risk

So let’s go through them all to make sure we really got it.

Demonstrating skills

How do you demonstrate skills?

Well imagine you were a basketball player and I asked you to demonstrate skills… what would you do?

Probably take some jump-shots, dribble the ball around, and show me how to dunk (which I can only dream of doing).

Electrical skills are no different… and demonstration is no different. The only way to demonstrate skills is by showing.

Show me how to use a meter… show me where you would check for absence of voltage… show me.

Demonstrating knowledge

How do you demonstrate knowledge?

Well… it should come as no surprise that the easiest way is by writing (and passing) a test.

Unfortunately, this concept has seemed to go by the wayside and most courses today (either equipment training or safety training) do not require a test.

Everybody gets a medal has transcended the soccer field into our corporate training rooms… but this is really a topic for another day.

If you want to satisfy the demonstration of knowledge, then you should really require a test with a passing grade of at least 75% for all of your courses.

Construction and operation

Here we are talking about construction and operation of electrical equipment.

Knowing how something is designed and put together paired with how it’s supposed to function is absolutely paramount in assuring your safety while working on it.

I you don’t know what can bite you the risk of injury goes way up.

For every piece of equipment that an electrical worker has to work on… they need to have a good working knowledge of the equipment.

Best ways to get this:

  • trade school;

  • manufacturer OEM;

  • manufacturer training (call them up and say you need some help).

Installations

Installations are extremely important because you typically are transitioning from a de-energized system to an energized one.

It is particularly hazardous because the system as a whole has not been energized before… it’s the first time… meaning the risk of an incident is much higher.

So really there are two things to fully understand.

One, is the initial installation itself... which wire goes where, what tool to use, and where to drill the holes.

Two, is the installation procedure, sequence and start-up methods… this is where safety is key, and qualifications are very important.

Best ways to get this:

  • Site electrical drawings;

  • Reviewing equipment schematics;

  • Commissioning procedures.

Identify hazards

Qualified workers must be able to identify the shock and arc flash hazard in any situation.

So, what’s the voltage level and what’s the incident energy level?

Also, to be able to identify their exposure level, or how likely is it that something will happen (and for those of you counting the score at home… I’m not happy even if it is a little bit likely something will happen).

Lastly, they need to be knowledgeable enough to recognize other hazards… not just the electrical ones.

Best ways to get this:

Reduce risk

A qualified electrical worker needs to have a playbook (we call it an electrical safety program) of ways to mitigate the risk of an arc flash or shock hazard occurring.

Here are the big three:

  • personal protective equipment;

  • establishing an electrically safe work condition; and

  • energized work permit & process.

If you fully understand how to utilize these mitigation techniques then your well on your way to becoming a qualified electrical worker.

Best ways to get this:

  • arc flash & electrical safety training;

  • online learning;

  • workplace codes and standards.

Conclusions

Hopefully know you have a clearer picture of what it takes to become a qualified electrical worker… and maybe more importantly you can think of a few people you are going to share this with so maybe they think twice before doing work they are not qualified to do.

Now it’s your turn!

Here are three things you can do right now:

  1. Share this with someone who you think needs to read it;

  2. Tell your story in the comments section below;

  3. Like it!