Working in a Pandemic: Electricians Adapt to New Safety Guidelines

electrician working with face mask

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Even in a pandemic, an electrical system in a home or business can need repair. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security considers electricians “essential workers.”* These workers conduct a range of operations necessary to continue critical infrastructure operations.1*

How are COVID-19 rules and regulations affecting how electricians do their jobs?

Why Electricians Are Essential Workers*

Under both state and federal guidelines, electricians are considered essential workers* in the critical trades.

The critical trades sector is the industry responsible for keeping homes, businesses and other buildings in working order. This includes professionals like:

Other types of essential industries include healthcare, food and agriculture, energy, transportation, information technology and more.2

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The industries deemed “essential” are considered to be “vital” to national security, public health or safety.2 Electricity is such a necessary part of modern life that electricians play an important role in “sustaining and protecting life” at all times, including during a global pandemic.1

We depend on electricity for almost everything that we do—running appliances, going on the Internet, keeping the lights on and more.3

Any time there is a problem with an electrical connection in a home or business, including power outages, it’s an electrician’s job to step in and fix it.

How Electricians Are Responding to Safety Guidelines

As essential workers*, electricians are required to continue working, which may involve visiting a customer’s home for remodeling, repairs or maintenance. Perhaps an electric outlet isn’t working or an unoccupied room of a house needs electrical wiring.4 Some homeowners who are stuck at home consider this a good time to do some repair or maintenance projects they’ve had on the backburner.5

When an electrician responds to a customer’s request for installation, repairs or maintenance, the contractor must consider some additional safety guidelines. While conditions and regulations may vary across regions and companies, some of the ways that electricians are handling work differently during the time of coronavirus include the following:1,4

Utilizing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Electricians, like most essential workers*, are usually provided masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and disinfecting wipes by their company to protect themselves and others when entering a customer’s residence.4

Wiping Down Equipment

After a job is completed, an electrician will use disinfectant to wipe down all the materials they used.6

Monitoring Themselves and Others for Symptoms

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has issued some emergency guidelines for electricians and electrical companies that include quarantining any employee who is exhibiting symptoms or has come into contact with anyone who has tested positive. This self-monitoring could help mitigate the spread of the disease; workers will not be retaliated against for not working if they are sick.7

Sending Customers a Questionnaire before Arriving

Some companies will contact a customer the day before a contractor is scheduled to visit and ask questions like whether anyone in the household has been sick or quarantined, has come into contact with anyone who has tested positive, has traveled recently or is otherwise at risk for contracting or spreading the disease.8

Conducting Virtual Consultations

Some companies have rolled out a virtual consultation program. Customers can connect with an electrician virtually to diagnose a problem before determining if an in-person visit is necessary. In some cases, the electrician may be able to guide the customer to do a DIY repair virtually.9

Using No-Touch Mobile Payment

Plenty of companies have also done away with paper-and-ink payment methods and are instead allowing payment to be conducted online, which reduces physical contact.9

Staggering Work Times with Other Contractors

In instances where a home or office building requires multiple types of contractors to get the job done, like electricians, plumbers and painters, work schedules can now be staggered so that only one person or team is working in the building at a time, which reduces physical contact.4

Social Distancing

It may go without saying that professional skilled trades workers also employ social distancing when entering a customer’s home, making sure to keep six feet of distance between each person.4

The World of Electricity Must Go On

covid masks
Though some electricians may be understandably apprehensive about continuing to work and perform service calls, there has been a coordinated response from federal, state and local agencies, as well as unions, professional organizations and companies, to ensure safety for everyone involved—both the electricians and the customers. And many are grateful to still be working.4

There really is no way around it: our society relies heavily on working electricity to function. Essential workers* like electricians and other professional skilled trade workers could perhaps be the “unsung heroes” who keep our homes, offices and buildings running.8 Electricians ensure power is available for Internet connections, televisions, dishwashers, washers and dryers, refrigerators and anything else that requires working electricity!6

With 66% of U.S. employees working from home at least part of the week and 88% of organizations worldwide encouraging stay-at-home work schedules, keeping the lights on is important!6

Thanks to electricians, laptops can stay charged, Zoom meetings can convene uninterrupted and everyday household chores can continue as usual.6 Electricians are a key part of a healthy society, and this has become especially clear during the pandemic.

Train for an Essential Career* in Electrical Wiring

Are you interested in playing a vital role in powering the country’s infrastructure? Get the details on Tulsa Welding School’s electrician training program. See what it might take to start a career wiring the world.

Additional Sources

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