The Basics of Electrical Job Briefings

Now that everyone knows CSA has updated the workplace electrical safety standard I’ve started getting some questions about how to complete job briefings. In this article, I’ll go through the basics of electrical job briefings and answer some of the questions that keep coming up with regards to getting them done.

What is a job briefing?

Electrical job briefings are essentially a conversation that two or more people are having about doing an electrical job safely. They could be reviewing a predefined job safety plan or they are creating the plan from scratch. The bottom line is that the job is being reviewed and discussed prior to the work being started. This has been proven time and time again to be a key oversight by those who find themselves the victim of an electrical incident.

Does it need to be done for every electrical job? 

The short answer here is yes. Every job requires a job briefing to be completed.  

The long answer is that that it’s not so bad as it seems. I think it’s safe to say we can use intent to help us decide what every job really means. The intent of the job briefing is that every worker has reviewed the hazards and mitigation techniques before performing any electrical work on or near energized electrical conductors. So if you are doing a job which starts and ends without ever coming remotely close to energized equipment then I’d say the job briefing is unnecessary.  In all other cases, you need to be doing it.

Does a job briefing need to be recorded?

Ah, the infamous documentation question. Everyone wants to know if they need to do more paperwork and the truth is, in some form or another, you do. If you’ve already got a prewritten job safety plan, then you are safe to use that as the foundation of your discussion. But in most cases, you probably won’t have anything to lean on. This is where I recommend using a template for a job briefing, something that quickly highlights what’s important, that’s easily accessible to the workforce, and something that is fairly intuitive to complete. Remember, in safety, if it isn’t written down, it never happened. 

What topics should be covered by the job briefing?

The topics that need to be covered by the job briefing are fairly straightforward. It’s essentially a job plan and risk assessment rolled into one. I like to see the following questions answered by the end of a job briefing: 

  • what is the task we are about to do? 
  • what are the specific electrical hazards present over the duration of the task? 
  • what PPE and other mitigation techniques will we use? 
  • are we going to work live or establish an electrically safe work condition? 
  • do we need an energized work permit? 

If you can go through this thought process prior to starting any electrical job then just think of how much you are going to lower the risk of incident.

Conclusions

Electrical job briefings are a vital part of the success of an electrical safety program and the safe completion of any electrical task. While you might be adding a little more paperwork or feel like you are stalling things just a little bit longer the payoff will be massive in the end.