Generator safety guidelines

04/26/2016

Following these safety guidelines can help minimize the risks associated with mobile generator operation, reduce the potential for accidents and injuries and improve overall jobsite safety.

Mechanical hazards

To avoid mechanical risks, an operator should become familiar with the generator parts, taking note of warning decals and safety guards, and following the manufacturer’s recommendations for safe operation. Most mechanical-related generator accidents can be prevented by following basic safety instructions.

Electrical hazards

Reducing the electrical risks associated with a mobile generator starts with proper installation by a certified individual in accordance with standard electrical practices and local codes. Proper grounding reduces many of the risks associated with generator operation, including tripped breakers, short circuits that produce sparks or arcing, and uncontained electrical current.

Incorrect electrical connections not only put an operator at risk, but can also cause significant damage to a generator, as well as the equipment being powered. The downstream effect is forced downtime, costly equipment repairs or replacement, and ultimately lost revenue.

Cable condition

Cables are another risk factor when powering a jobsite. Cables are rental items that experience a tremendous amount of use and over time become worn. When this happens, the rubber casing can split or peel, creating a potential path for a short circuit to occur. Checking the condition of cables before every use can help prevent a dangerous situation. 

Routing cable should be done in a way that minimizes risk to people and equipment. Surveying a jobsite prior to setup can help find a route around obstacles and hazards, including standing water and heavy traffic areas that can damage cables and present a tripping hazard for workers. Cable ramps — plastic devices that protect cables from pedestrian and vehicle traffic — are a common rental item when heavy traffic areas are unavoidable on a jobsite.   

Brains of the operation

The generator control panel is another area with safety functionality. The control panel allows an operator to monitor machine function and receive warning indications should the generator begin to operate outside of safe limits. The warning display tells the operator what malfunction is occurring, and possibly how to remedy the issue. If a control panel warning is not addressed by an operator, the machine will enter protection mode and shut down.

Defense mechanism

Safety mechanisms are built into most mobile generators and prevent the machine from operating outside of certain parameters. If a generator is overloaded, it will trip and shut down to protect the machine from being damaged. Likewise, if an engine experiences problems, the machine will shut down to prevent complete engine failure. An emergency stop button that immediately terminates operation is another common feature on most mobile generator models.