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Benchmarking risk assessment procedure for electrical safety • Mike Doherty

September 12, 2016 | By Mike Doherty

September 12, 2016 – Did you know the original health and safety management system standard was the British BS OHSAS 18001? This was the precursor to not only CAN/CSA-Z1000 “Occupational health & safety management” but also ANSI/AIHA/ASSE Z10 “Occupational health & safety management systems”, which is used in the United States.

Meanwhile, CSA Z1000 is incredibly important here in Canada—the true foundation to the rest of the health and safety standards within CSA. It helps organizations improve their performance in health and safety, reduce injuries and fatalities, and follows the Plan-Do-Check-Act model as first prescribed within the Deming Cycle (a continuous quality improvement model).

Those of us on the CSA Z462 “Workplace electrical safety” Technical Committee have our own favourite portions of the standard. One of mine is in Annex A: “Aligning implementation of this standard with occupational health and safety management standards”. I call it one of the Z462 jewels, as it describes the essence of Annex A:

By itself, however, this standard does not constitute a comprehensive and effective electrical safety program. The most effective application of the requirements of this standard can be achieved within the framework of a recognized [OH&S] management system standard.


Annex A, Table A.1 goes on to draw links between Z462 and other recognized OH&S management standards, as noted above. (Our committee has always recognized that aligning electrical safety with the very best in OH&S management principles from these other standards is a world-class concept.)

CSA Z463 “Guideline on maintenance of electrical systems”, CSA Z1001, CSA Z462 and the ever-important CSA Z460 “Control of hazardous energy: lockout and other methods” are all tools that build upon the principles of CSA Z1000. (Another example of the ongoing push for excellence is CSA Z1005 “Incident investigation and prevention”, is currently under development.)

In an effort to make a quantum change to worker electrical safety, our Z462 Technical Committee decided to benchmark one of these other CSA standards. When looking for the leading edge, it was evident CSA Z1002 “Occupational health & safety: hazard identification and elimination and risk assessment and control) was the place to go.

While Z1002 is not specific to electrical safety, it does point the way to a best practice: aligning Z462 with Z1002 leads to the very best in risk assessment procedure and electrical safety work procedures. Of course, both of these standards are aligned with the management principles of Z1000, providing clarity with the three basic risk assessment procedure steps:

1.        Identify hazards
2.        Assess risks
3.        Implement risk control, according to a hierarchy of methods

I will go over the specific electrical safety uses of the risk assessment procedure from Z1002 in upcoming columns, including the shock risk assessment process and the two arc flash risk assessment methodologies.

As aligned standards, these tools are second-to-none and, with some practise and reasonable rigour, they can greatly assist with the safety of workers, supervisors and managers within the electrical sector.

A subject-matter expert on electrical safety, Mike Doherty is a consultant and trainer for e-Hazard in Canada (e-hazard.com), and the president and owner of Blue Arc Electrical Safety Technologies Inc. He is a licensed electrician and an IEEE senior member, and has served as the Technical Committee chair for CSA Z462 since its inception in 2006. His specialties include electrical safety management, consulting, training, auditing and electrical incident investigations. Mike can be reached at mike.doherty@e-hazard.com.

* This article also appears in the September 2016 edition of Electrical Business Magazine. Check out our ARCHIVE page for back issues.

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