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By Dover Publications
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.
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In the performance of his normal duties, the technician is exposed to many potentially dangerous conditions and situations. No training manual, no set of rules or regulations, no listing of hazards can make working conditions completely safe. However, it is possible for the technician to complete a full career without serious accident or injury. Attainment of this goal requires that he be aware of the main sources of danger, and that he remain constantly alert to those dangers. He must take the proper precautions and practice the basic rules of safety. He must be safety conscious at all times, and this safety consciousness must become second nature to him.
Much pertinent safety information is contained in Rate Training Manuals. Of particular worth is the Standard First Aid Training Course, NavPers 10081-B. In addition, directives concerning safety are published by all major commands on those specific hazards and procedures falling under the cognizance of those commands. The Chief of Naval Operations has issued a listing of specific safety precautions compiled by the Navy Department. This publication cross references safety directives by subject matter and by the identifying designation.
The purpose of this chapter is to indicate some of the major hazards encountered in the normal working conditions of the technician, and to indicate some of the basic precautions that must be observed. Although many of these hazards and precautions are general and apply to all personnel, some of them are peculiar or especially applicable to personnel concerned with electrical and electronic maintenance.
Most accidents which occur in noncombat operations can be prevented if the full cooperation of personnel is gained, and if care is exercised to eliminate unsafe acts and conditions. In the following paragraphs, some general safety rules are listed. These rules apply to personnel in all types of activities, and each individual should strictly observe the following precautions as applicable to his work or duty:
1. Report any unsafe condition or any equipment or material which he considers to be unsafe.
2. Warn others whom he believes to be endangered by known hazards or by failure to observe safety precautions.
3. Wear or use available protective clothing or equipment of the type approved for safe performance of his work or duty.
4. Report any injury or evidence of impaired health occurring in the course of work or duty.
5. Exercise, in the event of any unforseen hazardous occurrence, such reasonable caution as is appropriate to the situation.
ELECTRICAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Safety precautions in this chapter are not intended to replace information given in instructions or maintenance manuals. If at any time there is doubt as to what steps and procedures to follow, consult the leading petty officer.
EFFECTS OF ELECTRIC SHOCK
The amount of current that may pass through the body without danger depends on the individual and the current quantity, type, path, and length of contact time.
Body resistance varies from 1,000 to 500,000 ohms for unbroken, dry skin. (Resistance and its unit of measurement are discussed later in this manual.) Resistance is lowered by moisture and high voltage, and is highest with dry skin and low voltage. Breaks, cuts, or burns may lower body resistance. A current of 1 milliampere can be felt and will cause a person to avoid it. (The term milliampere is discussed later in this manual; however, for this discussion it is sufficient to define milliampere as a very small amount of current or 1/1,000 of an ampere. Current as low as 5 milliamperes can be dangerous. If the palm of the hand makes contact with the conductor, a current of about 12 milliamperes will tend to cause the hand muscles to contract, freezing the body to the conductor. Such a shock may or may not cause serious damage, depending on the contact time and your physical condition, particularly the condition of your heart. A current of only 25 milliamperes has been known to be fatal; 100 milliamperes is likely to be fatal.
Due to the physiological and chemical nature of the human body, five times more direct current than alternating current is needed to freeze the same body to a conductor. Also, 60-hertz (cycles per second) alternating current is about the most dangerous frequency. This is normally used in residential, commercial, and industrial power.
The damage from shock is also proportional to the number of vital organs transversed, especially the percentage of current that reaches the heart.
Currents between 100 and 200 milliamperes are lethal. Ventricular fibrillation of the heart occurs when the current through the body approaches 100 milliamperes. Ventricular fibrillation is the uncoordinated actions of the walls of the heart's ventricles. This in turn causes the loss of the pumping action of the heart. This fibrillation will usually continue until some force is used to restore the coordinations of the heart's actions.
Severe burns and unconsciousness are also produced by currents of 200 milliamperes or higher. These currents usually do not cause death if the victim is given immediate attention. The victim will usually respond if rendered resuscitation in the form of artificial respiration. This is due to the 200 milliamperes of current clamping the heart muscles which prevents the heart from going into ventricular fibrillation.
When a person is rendered unconscious by a current passing through the body, it is impossible to tell how much current caused the unconsciousness. Artifical respiration must be applied immediately if breathing has stopped.
GENERAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Because of the possibility of injury to personnel, the danger of fire, and possible damage to material, all repair and maintenance work on electrical equipment should be performed only by duly authorized personnel.
When any electrical equipment is to be overhauled or repaired, the main supply switches or cutout switches in each circuit from which power could possibly be fed should be secured in the open position and tagged. The tag should read, "This circuit was ordered open for repairs and shall not be closed except by direct order of...." (usually the person directly in charge of the repairs). After the work has been completed, the tag (or tags) should be removed by the same person.
The covers of fuse boxes and junction boxes should be kept securely closed except when work is being done. Safety devices such as interlocks, overload relays, and fuses should never be altered or disconnected except for replacements. Safety or protective devices should never be changed or modified in any way without specific authorization.
The interlock switch is ordinarily wired in series with the power-line leads to the electronic power supply unit, and is installed on the lid or door of the enclosure so as to break the circuit when the lid or door is opened. A true interlock switch is entirely automatic in action; it does not have to be manipulated by the operator. Multiple interlock switches, connected in series, may be used for increased safety. One switch may be installed on the access door of a device, and another on the cover or the power-supply section. Complex interlock systems are provided when several separate circuits must be opened for safety.
Because electrical and electronic equipment may have to be serviced without deenergizing the circuits, interlock switches are constructed so that they can be disabled by the technician. However, to minimize the danger of disabling them accidentally, they are generally located in such a manner that a certain amount of manipulation is necessary in order to disable them.
Fuses should be removed and replaced only after the circuit has been deenergized. When a fuse blows, it should be replaced only with a fuse of the same current and voltage ratings. When possible, the circuit should be carefully checked before making the replacement, since the burned-out fuse is often the result of circuit fault.
HIGH VOLTAGE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
It is human nature to become careless with routine procedures. To illustrate the results of unsafe practices and to reemphasize the need for good safety habits, particularly around high voltage or high current circuits, consider the following incident.
A technician was electrocuted while attempting to bypass an interlock circuit in the vicinity of high voltages on a piece of electrical equipment. This was the direct result of violating a basic safety practice and indirectly an individual lack of equipment knowledge.
Many pieces of electrical equipment employ voltages which are dangerous and may be fatal if contacted. Practical safety precautions have been incorporated into electrical systems; when the most basic rules of safety are ignored, the built-in protection becomes useless.
The following rules are basic and should be followed at all times by all personnel when working with or near high voltage circuits:
1. CONSIDER THE RESULT OF EACH ACT—there is absolutely no reason for an individual to take chances that will endanger his life or the lives of others.
2. KEEP AWAY FROM LIVE CIRCUITS—do not change parts or make adjustments inside the equipment with high voltages on.
3. DO NOT SERVICE ALONE—always service equipment in the presence of another person capable of rendering assistance of first aid in an emergency.
4. DO NOT TAMPER WITH INTERLOCKS—do not depend on interlocks for protection; always shut down equipment. Never remove, short circuit, or tamper with interlocks except to repair the switch.
5. DO NOT GROUND YOURSELF—make sure you are not grounded when adjusting equipment or using measuring equipment. Use only one hand when servicing energized equipment. Keep the other hand behind you.
6. Do not energize equipment if there is any evidence of water leakage; repair the leak and wipe up the water before energizing.
These rules, teamed with the idea that voltage shows no favoritism and that personal caution is your greatest safeguard, may prevent serious injury or even death.
WORKING ON ENERGIZED CIRCUITS
Insofar as is practicable, repair work on energized circuits should not be undertaken. When repairs on operating equipment must be made because of emergency conditions, or when such repairs are considered to be essential, the work should be done only by experienced personnel, and if possible, under the supervision of a senior petty officer of the assigned shop. Every known safety precaution should be carefully observed. Ample light for good illumination should be provided; the worker should be insulated from ground with some suitable nonconducting material such as several layers of dry canvas, dry wood, or a rubber mat of approved construction. The worker should, if possible, use only one hand in accomplishing the necessary repairs. Helpers should be stationed near the main switch or the circuit breaker so that the equipment can be deenergized immediately in case of emergency. A man qualified in first aid for electric shock should stand by during the entire period of the repair.
GROUNDING OF EQUIPMENT
A poor safety ground, or one that is wired incorrectly, is more dangerous than no ground at all. The poor ground is dangerous because it does not offer full protection, while the user is lulled into a false sense of security. The incorrectly wired ground is a hazard because one of the line wires and the safety ground are transposed, making the shell of the tool "hot" the instant the plug is connected. Thus the unwary user is trapped, unless by pure chance the safety ground is connected to the grounded side of the line on a single-phase grounded system, or no grounds are present on an ungrounded system. In this instance the user again goes blithely along using the tool until he encounters a receptacle which has its wires transposed or a ground appears on the system.
Because there is no absolutely foolproof method of insuring that all tools are safely grounded (and because of the tendency of the average technician to ignore the use of the grounding wire), the old method of using a separate external grounding wire has been discontinued. Instead, a 3-wire, standard, color-coded cord with a polarized plug and a ground pin is required. In this manner, the safety ground is made a part of the connecting cord and plug. Since the polarized plug can be connected only to a mating receptacle, the user has no choice but to use the safety ground.
All new tools, properly connected, use the green wire as the safety ground. This wire is attached to the metal case of the tool at one end and to the polarized grounding pin in the connector at the other end. It normally carries no current, but is used only when the tool insulation fails, in which case it short circuits the electricity around the user to ground and protects him from shock. The green lead must never be mixed with the black or white leads which are the true current-carrying conductors.
Check the resistance of the grounding system with a low reading ohmmeter to be certain that the grounding is adequate (less than 1 ohm is acceptable). Ohmmeter and its use is discussed in chapter 15. If the resistance indicates greater than 1 ohm, use a separate ground strap.
Some old installations are not equipped with receptacles that will accept the grounding plug. In this event, use one of the following methods:
1. Use an adapter fitting.
2. Use the old type plug and bring the green ground wire out separately.
3. Connect an independent safety ground line. When using the adapter, be sure to connect the ground lead extension to a good ground. (Do not use the center screw which holds the cover plate on the receptable.) Where the separate safety ground leads are externally connected to a ground, be certain to first connect the ground and then plug in the tool. Likewise, when disconnecting the tool, first remove the line plug and then disconnect the safety ground. The safety ground is always connected first and removed last.
BATTERY SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
The principal hazard in connection with batteries is the danger of acid burns when refilling or when handling them. These burns can be prevented by the proper use of eyeshields, rubber gloves, rubber aprons, and rubber boots with nonslip soles. Rubber boots and apron need be worn only when batteries are being refilled. It is a good practice, however, to wear the eye-shield whenever working around batteries to prevent the possibility of acid burns of the eyes. Wood slat floorboards, if kept in good condition, are helpful in preventing slips and falls as well as electric shock from the high-voltage side of charging equipment.
Another hazard is the danger of explosion due to the ignition of hydrogen gas given off during battery charging operation. This is especially true where the accelerated charging method is used. Open flames or smoking is prohibited in the battery charging room, and the charging rate should be held at a point that will prevent the rapid liberation of hydrogen gas. Manufacturers' recommendations as to the charging rates for various size batteries should be closely followed and a shop exhaust system should be used.
Particular care should be taken by technicians to prevent short circuits while batteries are being charged, tested, or handled. Hydrogen gas, which is accumulated while charging, is highly explosive and a spark from a shorted circuit could easily ignite the gas, causing serious damage to personnel and equipment.
Extreme caution should be exercised when installing and removing batteries. The nature of battery construction is such that the batteries are heavy for their size and are somewhat awkward to handle. These characteristics dictate the importance of using proper safety precautions. There is the possibility of acid causing damage to equipment or injury to personnel and the danger of an explosion that may be caused from the gas that is produced as the battery is charged. Follow the prescribed safety precautions in working with batteries.
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