Electrical Safety Month presents opportunities for distributors, contractors

May is Electrical Safety Month, and while it is a time to raise awareness about potential hazards, it’s also a time of year that presents distributors and contractors with several opportunities—demonstrating expertise to customers, upselling, and keeping their own workplaces safe. Brett Brenner, president of Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), spoke with about how electrical industry professionals can boost the bottom line during this important time of year.

“I really think there’s an opportunity for [electrical professionals] to educate themselves and educate the consumers to hopefully make homes safer. Trade people need to educate consumers on the electrical needs of the home,” Brenner said. Electrical Safety Month is an opportunity to reinforce to consumers that those in the electrical industry are the experts on this topic—the ones homeowners and commercial property owners should turn to with questions about electrical issues they’re facing. ESFI provides the information distributors and contractors need to relay to end users.

In addition to keeping homes and other buildings safe, contractors and distributors can use Electrical Safety Month as a chance to accomplish personal business goals. “We want them to think bigger picture,” Brenner said. “Look around the home and figure out opportunities to create more business, while also making the home safer.”

Brenner suggested that when working on an older home, use this as an opportunity to talk to the owner about old home wiring and the dangers associated with it and the products that you can provide to help fix those dangerous problems. “There’s always an opportunity to upsell new technology, and that accomplishes the goal of ESFI but also the business goals of installing more products,” Brenner said.

So what are electrical professionals missing? Brenner said, “They’re missing opportunities to install safer products like AFCIs. If they see children in the house, tell the homeowner that using outlet covers (which are safe), they’re not necessarily the safest thing out there. Ask the homeowner, ‘Did you know that there are tamper resistant outlets that you can put in that we can help put in for you, that you won’t have to think twice about?’”

Likewise, distributors have an opportunity to work with their contractor customers to ensure that the safest products are the ones that end up in the end users homes and businesses.

This May, ESFI is turning its attention to new technology with its “Be in the Know about the New” campaign. “Typically a home in the U.S. was built in the 1970s and the problem is that most of those homes probably aren’t able to just ‘plug and play’ with any of the new technology that we’re seeing now,” Brenner said. Those new technologies include electric vehicles, solar panels, smart meters and wind power. As part of this year’s campaign ESFI has released the National Electrical Safety Month (NESM) Toolkit, which provides consumers with an introduction to the technologies, as well as the safety considerations for incorporating them into existing home electrical systems.  The toolkit also features materials on technologies that can be easily retrofitted to improve safety.

Also during Electrical Safety Month, ESFI is also working to promote workplace safety. “On the industrial side of things, we have a new program out called ‘How do you know.’ The program focuses on electrical workplace safety habits,” Brenner said. “How do you know” offers a free online assessment that will give companies and idea of where they rank on electrical safety work practices. “The idea is to avoid people getting hurt, but it’s also to help businesses avoid liability,” Brenner said.

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