Hazards and safety

Electricity can kill or severely injure people and cause damage to property. The main hazards of working with electricity are electric shock and burns from contact with live parts, injury from fire due to faulty electrical equipment or installations, or explosion.

The risk must be assessed, taking into consideration the type of electrical equipment used, the way in which it is used and the environment it is used in. You must make sure that the electrical equipment is suitable for its intended use and the conditions in which it is operated, and that it is only used for its intended purpose.

In wet environments, unsuitable equipment can become live and make its surroundings live too. Fuses, circuit breakers and other devices must be correctly rated for the circuit they protect. Isolators and fuse box cases should be kept closed and, if possible, locked.

Cables, plugs, sockets and fittings must be robust enough and adequately protected for the working environment. Machinery must have an accessible switch or isolator to cut off the power quickly in an emergency.

When you work near electricity, you must assess the risk by identifying the potential hazards and taking sensible measures to avoid it (see some security symbols in figures 1 and 2). You have to learn how to recognize wires. They may be overhead power lines, electrical wiring in a workplace or cables buried under the ground. Look for electrical wires, cables or equipment near where you are going to work and check for sign warning of dangers from electricity.

Work away from electrical wiring whenever possible. If you have to work near electrical wiring or equipment, the electrical supply must be switched off. Make sure the power is off, and never switched on again without you agreeing.

Figura Security symbols
Figura Danger sign

Storyline

Bill and Jordi are on an electrical inspection visit to certify a new lift installation in an existing residential building.

Bill: How are we going to pass the cables? That will be a big task, since the house was built without provision for a lift.

Jordi: A new underground conduit wiring is needed to connect the control system from the circuit breaker and the conduit must be a tube/pipe for enclosing electric cable.

Bill: Ok, I understand. So, what do we do next?

Jordi: We have to be certain that the installation complies with the safety regulations.

Bill: What about the control panel, where do we install it?

Jordi: The lift control panel must be installed at a place easy to reach quickly for operation or inspection without difficulties.

Bill: I see. And do we connect the lift to the old circuit breaker in the building?

Jordi: No. For safety reasons, a separate circuit breaker device has to be installed for the lift control panel.

Bill: Jordi, the entrance to the staircase is very low. What if it floods? We need to take that into account.

Jordi: Yes, you are right. A drainage pipe must be provided to allow easy passage of water.

Bill: Ok. Earthing is also important, isn’t it?

Jordi: Certainly, grounding must be provided by an appropriate electrode conductor.

Bill: Wow, the control panel will be complicated, with so many cables!

Jordi: Don’t worry. Proper labelling and identification of all connections in the control panel must be provided.

Bill: How do we protect the control panel?

Jordi: A permanent place for the control panel against the wall must be provided and securely attached under lock and key.

Bill: How do we prepare the quotation?

Jordi: Since it is a big project, the quotation will come along with the cost of all materials and equipment, labour, and other applicable charges associated with work to be performed.

Vocabulary

  • Hazard: perill
  • Injure: ferir, prendre mal
  • Damage: dany
  • Faulty equipment: equips/aparells defectuosos
  • To assess: avaluar
  • Suitable: apropiat
  • Intended use: ús previst
  • Wet environments: entorns humits
  • Fuse: fusible
  • Machinery: maquinària
  • Isolator: aïllant
  • Wire: cable
  • Overhead power line: línia d’alta tensió
  • Cables buried under the ground: cables enterrats sota terra
  • Electrical supply: subministre elèctric
  • Without provision for a lift: sense previsió per a un ascensor
  • Underground conduit wiring: cablejat mitjançant un tub/conducte subterrani
  • Pipe: tuberia
  • Staircase: escala (entrada)
  • Flooding: inundació
  • Drainage pipe: tuberia de drenatge
  • Earthing: derivació a terra
  • Labelling: etiquetatge
  • Quotation: pressupost
  • Labour: mà d’obra
  • Applicable changes: canvis aplicables

Grammar

The modal verbs (Cat. verbs modals) form a special type of verbs in English. They do not express actions, but ideas like ability, obligation and possibility. They are also used to ask for permission, make requests or express the future, for example.

The modal verbs are: can, could, must, should, may, might, will and would

The main characteristics of the modal verbs are these:

  • They have no verb tenses: the modal verbs generally refer to the present or the future time, but they have no tenses like the past tenses, the continuous and perfect tenses, or the infinitive. To express a modal verb in any of these forms, we must use an alternative expression with the same meaning.
  • The 3rd person singular does not add an -s: he can, she must, he may, etc. It is wrong to say: he cans.
  • They form the negative by adding not to the verb, as in the verb be: I cannot, he must not, etc. It is wrong to say: I don’t can, he doesn’t must.
  • They form the interrogative by inverting the order of the subject and the verb, as in the verb be: Can you…?, May I…?, etc. It is wrong to say: Do you can…?, Do I may…?.
  • They must always be accompanied by another verb in the infinitive form: I can speak English (Cat. Sé parlar anglès). The sentence I can English makes no sense.

Modal verbs: can / could

The modal verb can is used to express:

  • Present ability: He can cook very well (Cat. [Ell] sap cuinar molt bé/[Ell] cuina molt bé).
  • Certain possibility: It can rain (Cat. Pot ser que plogui / És possible que plogui).
  • Informal permission: Can I go please? (Cat. Puc marxar, si us plau?).
  • Informal request: Can you come please? (Cat. pots venir, si us plau?).
  • A suggestion: We can have a coffee (Cat. Podem prendre un cafè).

The modal verb could is used to express:

  • Past ability: I couldn’t speak English some years ago (Cat. Fa alguns anys [jo] no sabia parlar anglès).
  • Uncertain possibility: It could rain (Cat. Podria ser que plogués).
  • Formal permission: Could I go please? (Cat. Podria marxar si us plau?).
  • Formal/polite request: Could you come please? (Cat. Podries venir si us plau?).
  • A suggestion: We could have a coffee (Cat. podríem prendre un cafè).

These are the conjugations of can and could:

Can

Taula: Conjugation of ‘can’
Affirmative Negative
Long form
Negative
Short form
Interrogative
I can cannot* can’t can I…?
you can cannot* can’t can you…?
he, she, it can cannot* can’t can he / she / it…?
we can cannot* can’t can we…?
you can cannot* can’t can you…?
they can cannot* can’t can they…?

* The long form of the negative is spelt as one word (cannot). This form is only used in formal written texts. When speaking, we always say can’t.

Could

Taula: Conjugation of ‘could’
Affirmative Negative
Long form
Negative
Short form
Interrogative
I could could not couldn’t could I…?
you could could not couldn’t could you…?
he, she, it could could not couldn’t could he / she / it…?
we could could not couldn’t could we…?
you could could not couldn’t could you…?
they could could not couldn’t could they…?

Alternative forms

The modal verbs can and could only have one form each. To express the idea of ability, we use can in the present and could in the past. In other tenses, we can use the expression:

  • Be able to (Cat. Ser capaç de)

For example:

  • I haven’t been able to find a solution (present perfect) (Cat. No he estat capaç de trobar una solució).
  • I will be able to speak English one day (future) (Cat. Un dia sabré parlar anglès).

Modal verbs: must / should

The modal verb must is used to express:

  • Obligation: I must go (Cat. Haig de marxar).
  • Prohibition (in the negative form): We mustn’t smoke here (Cat. Aquí no podem fumar / Aquí està prohibit fumar).
  • Predictions: You’ve got a call. That must be James (Cat. Tens una trucada. Deu ser James).

The modal verb should is used to express:

  • Moral obligation: I should talk to Mrs Smith (Cat. Hauria de parlar amb la Sra Smith).
  • Advice: You should practise the oral skills (Cat. Hauries de practicar les abilitats orals).

Obligation and moral obligation

The difference between an obligation and a moral obligation is not very clear because it often depends of the person’s point of view.

An obligation is something that we must do because it is established by the regulations (for example, we must wear a jacket to go to a formal meal) or because we think that it is necessary or very important (for example, you must go if you want to take that flight).

On the other hand, a moral obligation is something which is not obligatory, but we feel that it is important for us or in a given context (for example, I think I should practise more if I want to improve my oral skills).

In Catalan and Spanish, we make the distinction with different forms of the verb. Notice these examples:

  • We must wear a jacket: Cat. Hem de portar jaqueta / Sp. Tenemos que llevar chaqueta.
  • I should practise more: Cat. Hauria de practicar més / Sp. Debería practicar más.

These are the conjugations of must and should:

Must

Taula: Conjugation of ‘must’
Affirmative Negative
Long form
Negative
Short form
Interrogative
I must must not mustn’t must I…?
you must must not mustn’t must you…?
he, she, it must must not mustn’t must he / she / it…?
we must must not mustn’t must we…?
you must must not mustn’t must you…?
they must must not mustn’t must they…?

Should

Taula: Conjugation of ‘should’
Affirmative Negative
Long form
Negative
Short form
Interrogative
I should should not shouldn’t should I…?
you should should not shouldn’t should you…?
he, she, it should should not shouldn’t should he / she / it…?
we should should not shouldn’t should we…?
you should should not shouldn’t should you…?
they should should not shouldn’t should they…?

Alternative forms

The modal verb must expresses an obligation in the present. To express an obligation in other tenses, we can use the expression:

  • Have to (Cat. Haver de)

For example:

  • We had to wait for three hours in the rain (passat simple) (Cat. Vam haver d’esperar tres hores sota la pluja).
  • You will have to give an explanation (future) (Cat. hauràs de donar una explicació)
  • They have had to go immediately (present perfect) (Cat. Han hagut de marxar de seguida).

The verb should usually refers to the present (as in: I should go now) or to the future (as in: I should go tomorrow). To speak about a moral obligation in the past, we can use this expression:

  • Should have + past participle: I should have called him (Cat. L’hauria d’haver trucat).

Modal verbs: may / might

The modal verb may is used to:

  • Express possibility: You may have an accident (Cat. Podries tenir un accident / És possible que tinguis un accident).
  • Ask for formal permission: May I ask you a favour? (Cat. Li puc demanar un favor?).
  • Give formal permission: You may sit down now (Cat. Ara podeu seure).

The modal verb might is to:

  • Express a remote possibility: You might have an accident (Cat. Podria ser que tinguessis un accident).
  • Ask for very formal permission: Might I ask you a question? (Cat. Podría fer-li una pregunta?)
  • Give very formal permission: You might tell me all you think (Cat. Pot dir-me tot el que vostè pensa).

These are the conjugations of may and might:

May

Taula: Conjugation of ‘may’
Affirmative Negative
Long form
Negative
Short form
Interrogative
I may may not - may I…?
you may may not - may you…?
he, she, it may may not - may he / she / it…?
we may may not - may we…?
you may may not - may you…?
they may may not - may they…?

Might

Taula: Conjugation of ‘might’
Affirmative Negative
Long form
Negative
Short form
Interrogative
I might might not - might I…?
you might might not - might you…?
he, she, it might might not - might he / she / it…?
we might might not - might we…?
you might might not - might you…?
they might might not - might they…?

Alternative forms

When we express a possibility with may or might, we always refer to future possibilities. To speak of possibilities in the past, we can use these forms:

  • May have + past participle: It may have rained (Cat. És possible que hagi plogut / Pot haver plogut).
  • Might have + past participle: He might have gone (Cat. Podria ser que hagués marxat / Podria haver marxat).

Other ways of expressing possibility are:

  • with the expression be possible that + clause: It is possible that it rains tonight (Cat. És possible que plogui aquesta nit).
  • with the adverb probably and the future tense: It will probably rain tonight (Cat. Probablement plourà aquesta nit).

modal verbs: will / would

The modal werb will is used to:

  • Express the future: The shop will close down next week (Cat. La botiga tancarà la setmana que ve).
  • Make requests: Will you help me please? (Cat. Em pots ajudar si us plau? / M’ajudes si us plau?).

The modal verb would is used to:

  • Express the conditional form: I would go if I had time (Cat. Jo hi aniria si tingués temps).
  • Make formal requests: Would you please send me the application? (Cat. Em podria enviar la sol·licitud si us plau?).
  • Make invitations (with like): Would you like a coffee? (Cat. Vols un cafè?).

These are the conjugations of will and would:

Will

Taula: Conjugation of ‘will’
Affirmative Negative
Long form
Negative
Short form
Interrogative
I will will not won’t* will I…?
you will will not won’t* will you…?
he, she, it will will not won’t* will he / she / it…?
we will will not won’t* will we…?
you will will not won’t* will you…?
they will will not won’t* will they…?

* Notice that the short form of the negative is won’t. This form is used in speech and informal written texts.

Would

Taula: Conjugation of ‘would’
Affirmative Negative
Long form
Negative
Short form
Interrogative
I would would not wouldn’t would I…?
you would would not wouldn’t would you…?
he, she, it would would not wouldn’t would he / she / it…?
we would would not wouldn’t would we…?
you would would not wouldn’t would you…?
they would would not wouldn’t would they…?

Alternative forms

See Unit 3, section 1.1. Grammar to see another way of expressing the future.

The modal verbs will and would have no alternative forms.

Communication

Both in our daily lives and in our working environments, asking for and expressing opinions is a very common activity. During a conversation, we express or listen to opinions most of the time. Sometimes we also include our opinions in emails or business letters. When we listen to an opinion, we can do two things: we can agree with that opinion or we can disagree. Opinions are so common that it is necessary to learn how to ask other people about their opinions, how to express them ourselves and how to respond to them.

Asking for opinions: question tags

The most common ways of asking for other people’s opinions are:

  • General opinions: what do you think of…?
  • Specific opinion: do you think (that)…?

When we speak, we normally omit the word that.

Here are some examples of questions asking for opinions:

  • What do you think of the new iPhone? (Cat. Què opines del nou iPhone?).
  • What do you think of the company’s policy? (Cat. Què en penses de la política de l’empresa?).
  • Do you think that the new CEO is competent? (Cat. Creus que el nou director general és competent?).
  • Do you think Mr Smith will help you? (Cat. Et penses que el Sr Smith t’ajudarà?).

When we speak in informal situations, we can also ask for other people’s opinions with a question tag. For example:

  • The new iPhone is too expensive, isn’t it? (Cat. El nou iPhone és massa car, no creus?)
  • Mr Smith will help you, won’t he? (Cat. El Sr Smith t’ajudarà, no?)

Let’s learn more things about the question tags.

Question tags

A question tag is a short question that we add at the end of a statement. We normally use question tags to see if the other person agrees or disagrees with our statement or to check if the other person has heard or undestood our words. We form the questions tags like this:

  • Modal/auxiliary verb of the statement (in the opposite form) + corresponding subject pronoun.

‘In the opposite form’ means that we must say the question tag in the negative if the statement is affirmative and we must say the question tag in affirmative if the statement is negative.

Here are some examples of questions tags:

  • It’s very cold today, isn’t it? (Cat. Avui fa molt de fred, oi que sí?).
  • You will be 50 next week, won’t you? (Cat. Faràs 50 anys la setmana que ve, no?).
  • I should wait, shouldn’t I? (Cat. M’hauria d’esperar, no creus?).
  • She speaks good English, doesn’t she? (Cat. Parla un bon anglès, no és veritat?).
  • You went out last night, didn’t you? (Cat. Anit vas sortir, oi?)
  • John has worked in the bak for 10 years, hasn’t he? (Cat. John porta 10 anys treballant al banc, no?)
  • You didn’t like the trade fair, did you? (Cat. No et va agradar la fira, oi que no?)
  • Mr Smith shouldn’t talk like this, should he? (Cat. El Sr Smith no hauria de parlar d’aquesta manera, no creus?

Questions tags in Catalan and Spanish

Question tags also exist in Catalan and Spanish. In these languages, there is a great variety of ways of expressing a question tag (see the examples in Catalan). In Catalan and Spanish, the question tag does not depend on the statement, as in English. Here are some ways of expressing question tags in those two languages:

  • Catalan: oi?, oi que sí/no?, no?, no creus?, no és veritat?, a que sí/no?
  • Spanish: ¿verdad?, ¿no es cierto?, ¿no crees?, ¿a que sí/no?, ¿no?

A very easy way of using a question tag is by adding right? to all the statements. For example:

  • It’s very cold today, right? (Cat. Avui fa molt de fred, no és cert?)
  • You didn’t like the trade fair, right? (Cat. No et va agradar la fira, no és cert?)

Expressing opinions

When we speak, people will generally understand when we are expressing an opinion and when we are stating a fact. However, sometimes it is necessary to make sure that the other person understands that we are expressing an opinion. To do this, we can use different expressions:

  • I think (that)…
  • In my opinion, …
  • From my point of view,…

We can also show that we are expressing a strong opinion. For this, we can say:

  • I believe (that)…
  • I’m sure (that)…
  • I’m convinced (that)…

The word that is very often omitted in speech.

Here are some examples of opinions:

  • I think we should call a doctor (Cat. Crec que hauríem de cridar a un metge).
  • In my opinion, your boss is too demanding (Cat. En la meva opinió, el teu cap és massa exigent).
  • From my point of view, this restaurant is excellent (Cat. Des del meu punt de vista, aquest restaurant és excel·lent).
  • I believe we must go on strike right now (Cat. Crec que hem de fer vaga ara mateix).
  • I’m sure Anne is the best candidate (Cat. Estic segur que Anne és la millor candidata).
  • I’m convinced that you will like the idea (Cat. Estic convençut que li agradarà la idea).

To express negative opinions, we simply say the statement in the negative. For example:

  • I think we shouldn’t call a doctor (Cat. Crec que no hauríem de cridar a un metge).
  • In my opinion, your boss is not too demanding (Cat. En la meva opinió, el teu cap no és massa exigent).

With the expressions I think… and I believe…, we can also express the verbs in negative and the statment in affirmative, like this:

  • I don’t think we should call a doctor (Cat. No crec que haguem de cridar a un metge).
  • I don’t believe that we must go on strike right now (Cat. No crec que haguem de fer vaga ara mateix).

Responding to opinions

During a conversation, we will probably have to respond to other people’s opinions. When this happens, we can agree or disagree with the other person. To agree or disagree, we can use these expressions:

Please notice that in English we must say: I agree, I don’t agree and I disagree. It is wrong to say: I am agree, I am not agree and <del>I am disagree.

Agree

  • I agree (with you).
  • Yes, I think so too.
  • Yes, that’s right.

Disagree

  • I don’t agree (with you).
  • I disagree (with you).
  • No, I don’t think so.

When we disagree with somebody’s opinions, it is proper social etiquette to express your own opinion on the subject. For example:

  • It’s very cold, isn’t it? - I disagree. I think it’s too warm (Cat. No estic d’acord. Crec que fa massa calor).

See Unit 1, section 3.1.3. Asking questions for checking the way of answering ‘yes/no questions’

Another way (informal) of responding to an opinion is by saying yes or no and then adding the subject pronoun and the auxiliary verb or modal of the statement. It is like answering a ‘yes/no question’. Here are some examples:

  • It’s very cold - Yes, it is (Cat. Fa molt fred - Sí, que en fa).
  • He speaks too low - Yes, he does (Cat. Parla molt baixet - Doncs sí).
  • We can do it - No, we can’t. It’s too difficult (Cat. Ho podem fer - No, no podem. És massa difícil).
  • We were in Japan last year - No, we weren’t. That was Korea (Cat. Vam estar al Japó l’any passat - No, allò era Corea).
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