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Will AVTs replace portable voltmeters?

For more than 10 years, electrical workers in New Jersey have relied on portable voltmeters to help them to identify hot wires so that they can minimize their risks of being injured while they are working. These devices meet the minimum requirements that are established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and have helped save many lives.

A new, permanently mounted solution is available. Called Absence of Voltage Testers (ATV), the devices automate the process of checking for live wires during lockout and tagout procedures. It is unclear how soon these systems may be broadly adopted, however. If they are accepted, many electrical workers may no longer need to carry their portable voltmeters around their workplaces.

OSHA has not yet ruled on whether it will allow AVTs to replace portable voltmeters, and it is unknown whether electricians would accept the changes if they were implemented. OSHA mandates a six-part test for currents in order to help maintain an electrically safe work environment. In response to increasing knowledge about the danger of flash arcs to workers, many Fortune 1000 companies have reacted by installing permanent electrical safety devices in their electrical equipment, which has resulted in a reduction of the risks of electrical injury.

People who suffer from electrical injuries at work may be seriously injured or killed. When workers are injured, they may apply for workers' compensation benefits through their employers' insurance carriers. If the workers are killed, the surviving spouses and dependent children may apply for benefits. Injured employees may have their medical expenses paid for by workers' compensation benefits. If they are left facing a disability that renders them partially or totally disabled, they may also recover benefits to replace a percentage of their former incomes. Families may recover a percentage of their loved ones' former incomes if they are killed as well as funeral and burial costs.

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