How to Reduce the Risks of an Electrical Shock on a Ship

Electrical Shock on a Ship: 90% of commodities are transported by sea now, and by 2050, the volume of shipping demand is predicted to quadruple. The market for ship repairs is expanding worldwide at a similar rate; it reached USD 32.29 billion in 2021 and is expected to surpass USD 39 billion by 2025.

A diesel generator for producing electricity, a main switchboard for distribution, and an emergency generator and emergency switchboard for producing electricity in an emergency are the components of a typical vessel’s electrical plant. On board, power is typically generated and delivered using a three-phase, 60Hz, 440 volt supply. Cables and ducts are used to transfer the power to every compartment of the ship.

Specifically, there are three ways that electrical current can injure a person: directly affecting the heart; creating falls that can lead to injury; or converting energy into heat within the body, which can result in burns.

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What increases the risk of electrocution during marine welding?

1. Operating in a damp environment

Normally, our skin protects us from electric shock. However, when moist, the body’s resistance decreases and a greater current flow is permitted. An arc welding machine with 50V DC or more can create electricity that is deadly in a damp environment.

2. Broken welding apparatus

Equipment that is worn out or broken, especially if insulators are burned out or missing, is another frequent source of shock injuries. Overheating can occur when welding machines are used more than their ampere or duty cycle ratings.

This can occur when welding is carried out with low arc voltages or short leads, which raises the real welding currents over what the machines show. As a result, the insulation becomes less effective at preventing electrical shocks over time.

3. Inadequate welding equipment

Poor quality welding machines can raise the risk of electrocution even if your equipment is not worn out or broken. One of the most important factors to consider when buying a welding machine is whether or not the open circuit voltage (OCV) meets the Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers’ maximum safe limit of 25 VAC or 70 VDC (COSWP).

There is a higher chance of electric shock or electrocution when using welding machines without a voltage reduction device or with an OCV that is not compliant.

4. Inappropriate methods for grounding

Electrical safety depends on proper grounding, and improper grounding techniques might put welders in danger. Welders frequently make the error of clamping the return clamp to the ship hull and using it as a return.

Welders should instead connect the return clamp as near to the workpiece as feasible to avoid current leakage. It is also imperative that personal protective equipment be worn.

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How to Avoid Electrical Shocks

How to Avoid Electrical Shocks
(Credit: Lambert Zainey)

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the adage goes. By implementing the following measures, you can significantly lower the likelihood of a shock happening in your building, protecting both your staff and your property.

  • Appropriate Electrical Installation: Making sure that all electrical equipment is placed correctly is the most crucial step in preventing electrical shocks. To prevent any unanticipated risks that could be harmful, only a certified electrician should perform this kind of work.
  • Using Personal Protection Equipment: Using personal protection equipment can significantly reduce the risk of electrical shock for workers. This kind of gear, which can assist prevent shocks, can vary from insulated gloves to full body suits.
  • Program for Electrical Safety: It is crucial to have a systematic program in place to ensure electrical safety. A program ought to prohibit, for instance, the usage of extension cords because of their high potential for shock hazards. A lockout-tag out program will also contribute to the safety of maintenance personnel.

Ensuring that all individuals are cognizant of the potential risks associated with electricity is crucial. Electrical shocks are often considered a mere annoyance, but they can be fatal when handling high-voltage equipment.Keeping safe with the appropriate gear

Safety while welding ultimately begins on the inside. This safety checklist should be used as a reminder, but your staff should be taught to recognize the possibility of electric shock or electrocution and know what to do in an emergency.

Welders are always at risk from electrical mishaps, but at Wilhelmsen, we think these incidents are entirely avoidable. By minimizing the risk of electrocution and optimizing the efficiency of your team, you may do so with the appropriate safety knowledge and gear.

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