One of the common tools utilized following the loss of power are portable generators. Most generators are gasoline powered and use internal combustion engines to produce electricity. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas produced during the operation of gasoline powered generators. When inhaled, the gas reduces your ability to utilize oxygen. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea and tiredness that can lead to unconsciousness and ultimately prove fatal.
Overhead and buried power lines are especially hazardous because they carry extremely high voltage. Fatal electrocution is the main risk, but burns and falls are also hazards.
Normal wear on cords can loosen or expose wires. Cords that are not 3-wire type, not designed for hard-usage, or that have been modified, increase your risk of contacting electrical current.
Due to the dynamic, rugged nature of construction work, normal use of electrical equipment causes wear and tear that results in insulation breaks, short-circuits, and exposed wires. If there is no ground-fault protection, it can cause a ground-fault that sends current through the worker's body.
If the power supply to the electrical equipment is not grounded or the path has been broken, fault current may travel through a worker's body, causing electrical burns or death. Even when the power system is properly grounded, electrical equipment can instantly change from safe to hazardous because of extreme conditions and rough treatment.
This is one in a series of informational fact sheets highlighting OSHA programs, policies or standards. It does not impose any new compliance requirements. For a comprehensive list of compliance requirements of OSHA standards or regulations, refer to Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This information will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. The voice phone is (202) 693-1999; teletypewriter (TTY) number: (877) 889-5627.
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