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Troubleshooting Electric Motors: How to Stay Safe While Working


Troubleshooting Electric Motors: How to Stay Safe While Working

Businesses where electric motors are in use frequently employ one or more workers to perform repairs or maintenance on them. As with anything involving electricity, there are inherent dangers. Among the hazards are fire, explosions, personal injury, and electric shock. If your workforce is involved with troubleshooting electric motors, you are required by law to maintain a safe, clean, well-lit working environment, and to ensure that your employees are well trained in proper safety procedures when working with electricity.

Controlling Electrical Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Hazard Act publishes extensive electrical safety information called “Controlling Electrical Hazards.” Some states operate their own safety programs, which must be at least as effective as the OSHA standards.

While absorbing the information in this publication might be challenging, it’s important that you and your employees who deal with electricity have a good understanding of the regulations. To ensure this happens, you might post the regulations in the workplace, and hold on-site trainings where you break the regulations down into manageable sections and go over the information with your team. What’s more, you should enroll your team in periodic trainings and seminars on electrical safety, led by professional electrical safety instructors.

OSHA regulations deal with the following elements of an electrical installation:

  • equipment
  • motors
  • machines
  • switches and controls
  • lighting
  • enclosures

Those who work with electric motors should be thoroughly versed in the principles of electricity: how it works, how it travels through a circuit, and how a human body can mistakenly become part of that circuit. Workers should know that the severity of an electric shock will vary depending on the amount of current traveling through the body, the path of the current through the body, and how long the body is in the circuit.

Safe Practices for Everyone in your Company

Electrical accidents are most often the result of unsafe equipment, unsafe environment, or unsafe work practices. You can prevent accidents by using insulation, grounding, guarding safe work practices, and electrical protective devices.

Some of the safer practices your workers can employ are as follows:

  • Check insulation for exposed wires.
  • Locate and enclose electric equipment to ensure no one comes into contact with live parts. Equipment with exposed parts that operates at 50 volts or more should be accessible only to authorized persons.
  • Proper grounding of a tool or electrical system creates a low-resistance path to the earth that prevents voltage buildup, reducing risk of shock.
  • Using circuit protection devices can limit or stop current flow automatically when there’s an overload, short circuit, or ground fault. This can be achieved through fuses and circuit breakers, ground-fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs (to be used in wet locations and construction sites).
  • Safe work practices can prevent many electrical accidents. Some best safety practices are: properly maintaining electric tools; being cautious when working near energized lines; de-energizing electric equipment prior to repair or inspection; and using protective equipment.

Troubleshooting Safety Program

Are you maintaining a safety program in your workplace? Start by instituting safety procedures such as these:

  • De-energize equipment.
  • Maintain lockout and tag procedures so that equipment stays de-energized.
  • Insist that employees use insulated protective equipment.
  • Instruct employees about maintaining a safe distance from energized parts.

Safety Training

Beyond instituting these procedures, you can enroll your employees in a training program that will help them troubleshoot common problems found in the workplace. Any workers employed in the following capacities should be included in the training:

  • safety directors
  • building engineers, managers, and superintendents
  • HVAC technicians
  • maintenance technicians
  • energy management personnel
  • anyone working on pumps and pump systems

As you research training schools for your employees, you might look for a workshop or seminar that covers the following:

  • three-phase motors — covering squirrel cage, synchronous, wound rotor; dual voltage connections; wyes and deltas
  • nameplate data — covering voltage, FLA, frequency, phase; RPM, design, code letter, duty; service factor, temperature, insulation; horsepower; efficiency, connections
  • basic motor theory — covering torque, horsepower, loading; construction; electrical principles of voltage, current, impedance; magnetism; induction; propulsion; power factor
  • single-phase motors — topics covering dual voltage connections; capacitor-start, shaded-pole, permanent-split, split phase, universal and repulsion; multiple speed connections
  • National Electrical Code and motors — covering overload protection; short-circuit protection; disconnects; sizing conductors; motor starters
  • DC motors — topics that cover shunt, series, compound, and permanent-magnet

Instruction on motor inspection criteria, as well as motor terminology, accessories, and enclosure types would also be beneficial.

Schedule Training Today!

NTT Training offers workshops and seminars in electrical safety either at off-site training locations throughout the United States, or we will arrange to have trainings at your workplace. We bring full-sized, hands-on equipment to our trainings, which are led by experienced instructors who will offer your team classroom instruction as well as a hands-on experience.

For information about the seminar, Electrical Motors: Understanding and Troubleshooting, call 855-712-7353 or contact NTT Training today!

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