How to improve safety in an electrical substation

 An electrical substation is the heart of a transmission and distribution system; Therefore, it is necessary to establish all security measures to avoid any type of problem. Next, we list a series of practices to improve safety in an electrical substation:

Demarcate restricted access areas

An electrical substation is not designed to allow the passage of people. Accidents can be prevented by restricting access to the area. When it is absolutely necessary for a visitor to enter, they must be accompanied by qualified personnel who know the facility well. In addition to taking all precautions, personal protective equipment should always be worn.

Review the one-line diagram

By showing the configuration of the components within a substation, it is possible to show normal and abnormal conditions, as well as identify which ones should be isolated and grounded. Technicians should have the diagram – detailed and up-to-date – on hand to perform maintenance tasks. The goal is to provide you with everything you need so that you can do your job safely.

Secure the entire perimeter of the area

Minimizing risks that come from external threats should be a security concern. Installing metal fences around the perimeter prevents unauthorized access, drives away wild animals and prevents accidents from happening. Of course, relevant signage is also required.

Grounding system design

The most important safety feature in the design of an electrical substation is the grounding system. All metal structures in and around the substation must be connected to it. During a fault, there is a total increase in ground potential where electricity is discharged to the ground. From the discharge location and out, there is a potential ground elevation gradient. This calculation is commonly known as “step and contact potential”. If a metal surface, such as a fence, is within the radius of the fence, it must be properly grounded to avoid the risk of electric shock during a short circuit.


A light well thought can contribute to creating a safe working environment. Staff will be able to clearly see the equipment and surroundings while performing their tasks. There should also be special lights in case of emergency.

Minimum design heights

The ungrounded parts and other elements of the substation should be 1.8-2.4 m from the ground. This to ensure that a person on the ground will not be able to touch an element that can become energized. For example, a pole-type isolator supporting an energized bus should be 1.8m above the ground, measuring from the bottom of the isolator. Touching it is unsafe if a disruptive discharge to the ground occurs on the insulator. The proper height of the bus and isolator reduces the risk.

Prohibit storage of equipment

Substations tend to be used to store equipment and other materials, which carries certain risks. This can not only cause tripping among staff, but the possibility that someone else tries to enter to commit a robbery. It must be remembered that not everyone who enters is aware of the risks that this implies. Prohibiting equipment from being stored in the facility prevents accidents.

In addition to an electrical substation being reliable and performing well, it must be safe. For this reason, engineers must strike a balance between design, performance and safety standards. A quality design will mean a good investment of time and resources.


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