LARGER IMAGE Client Safety Procedures
for Electrical Inspectors & Home Inspectors

  • ELECTRICAL INSPECTION CLIENT SAFETY - CONTENTS: Advice for home inspectors on protecting clients during the electrical inspection. istractions are safety hazards especially at the electrical panel. Client sticks finger in fuse socket while reaching over inspector's shoulder. How to inform building occupants or owners of unsafe conditions.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to protect bystanders during an electrical system inspection in a building
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This article discusses suggests safety procedures to reduce the chances of injury to or from a client during an electrical inspection.

Example: How to handle immediate life-safety threats during a building or home inspection. How to improve the safety of bystanders during an electrical inspection. Client and Building Owner Follow-up on electrical safety issues

These electrical inspection suggestions are not a complete inventory of all electrical safety procedures nor of all electrical components that should be inspected; these notes focus on identification of conditions that may present special electrical hazards for the electrical inspector.

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How to Protect People From Injury During Inspection of an Electrical Panel

In our photograph at page top a young client shows unsafe electrical wiring - lamp cord that has been run through the building wall cavity. Would we permit him to handle this wiring? Did we let him get too close to make this photograph?

ASHI Home Inspector Educational Seminar Proceedings: ASHI-NE Chapter Annual conference
September 22-23, 2008, Randolph, MA. -- Daniel Friedman. This is the full text version. A powerpoint presentation version of this class is also available.

Earlier we discussed this topic in detail and offered some strategies in positioning the inspector and client, making sure only one person handles the electrical panel, and other measures. See A HREF="/electric/Electric_Panel_Inspection_Safety.php">ELECTRICAL PANEL INSPECTION SAFETY for these details.

Electrical Inspection Follow up and Client Safety

Since the Standards of Practice for home inspectors (such as those published by ASHI, NAHI, CREIA, and CAHI) require home inspectors to open electric panels, a task not performed in many states during some other types of inspections, we and our clients face additional risks.

In a much less serious incident, the author had the personal experience of having a client ask "What's that?" as he reached over our shoulder to stick his finger right into an open fuse socket.

Among many reports of fires and accidents whose origin was suspected to be electrical, are reported deaths of a number of electricians and electrical workers - people working in some of the same high-risk areas examined by inspectors.

A home inspector or electrical inspector who has reported a very unsafe condition, recommended immediate action, and yet may later learn that occupants of the building were nearly killed by work by an incompetent repairman. [NOTE: Port Jervis, NY, AHS Ctl#4658911, 7/10/90.] What can be done to reduce the chance of this terrible consequence?

Recommending action on an unsafe condition can convert a pre-existing problem into an immediate catastrophe if the client or owner calls an untrained person to the property or if he attempts a do-it-yourself repair.

Often a referral to local fire inspector, electrical inspector, or utility company can help assure that repairs are prompt, proper, and safe. If you recommend immediate action for an unsafe condition, where possible you should provide some means for the client or building owner to assure that the action which is taken is proper and safe.

Inspectors are properly nervous and reluctant to prescribe the actual repair that is needed at a property - they may not know the detailed repair procedure, or there may be alternative repairs, or their description may prompt an un-trained person to try to do the work.

The Building Owner or Building Manager Needs to Know About Unsafe Conditions that Need Immediate Action

The inspector should inform the appropriate parties both orally and in writing any suspected unsafe conditions.

If an area or component could not be fully inspected, the inspector should explain in writing why she or he did not enter or examine an area or component, and what additional inspections or steps should be taken, as well as the general risks that may be present.

Handling Immediate Threats to Life and Safety at a Building Inspection

If in the inspector's judgment equipment is an immediate threat to life and property, such as a boiler whose flue connection has fallen off, we recommend that dangerous equipment be shut down and the appropriate people notified. See Shutting Down Unsafe Equipment. In some cases "appropriate people" includes not only the client and building owner, but also building occupants.

In some instances such as sparking electrical panels, gas leaks, or evidence of a fire, the inspector and everyone else should leave the building immediately and from outside, call the fire department and as appropriate, the gas company, police, or rescue personnel.

Original text - Daniel Friedman, as ASHI Technical Journal Staff, January 1992,updates February 2006, September 2008. This is the full text version.

A powerpoint presentation version of this class is also available. Readers of this article should also see these other building inspection safety articles:  Safety for Building Inspectors.


Continue reading at ELECTRICAL INSPECTOR SAFETY PROCEDURES for important basic safety procedures, clothing, and equipment for home inspectors and electrical inspectors, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


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