Worker exposure to electrical hazards. Electric shock, electrocutions, fire, arc flash/blast, and explosions can occur as a result of any of the following conditions:
- Plugging in electric equipment with damaged connectors (e.g., plugs with bent blades or missing the ground prong)
- The ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault and thereby prevent injury to the worker.
- Unsafe work practices (e.g., pulling equipment by its electric cord or plugging electrical equipment with wet hands)
- Use of faulty electric equipment, machinery or wiring (e.g., using equipment with frayed electric cords or damaged enclosures that expose energized parts)
- A flexible electrical cord may be damaged by door or window edges, by staples and fastenings, by equipment rolling over it, or simply by aging.
- Receptacles may be damaged (e.g., receptacles missing a faceplate) and electric equipment then plugged in to the damaged receptacles
- Wear and tear on electric equipment or wiring can result in insulation breaks, short-circuits and exposed wires. These conditions can energize the outside enclosure of electric equipment. If a metal enclosure of electric equipment becomes energized accidentally by any of these conditions, and there is no ground-fault protection, an electrical current can flow through the body of a worker who touches this energized enclosure.
Requirements under OSHA's Electrical Standard, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart S
- Examine all electric equipment as required by the standard. Electric equipment shall be free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. [29 CFR 1910.303(b)(1)]
- Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling. [29 CFR 1910.303(b)(2)]
- Sufficient access and working space shall be provided and maintained around all electric equipment to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance of such equipment. [29 CFR 1910.303(g)(1)]
- Ensure that all electrical service near sources of water is properly grounded. [29 CFR 1910.304(g)(6)]
Remove from service all portable electric equipment (i.e., cord and plug connected equipment, including flexible cord sets (extension cords)) where there is a defect or evidence of damage that might expose an employee to injury. [29 CFR 1910.334(a)(2)(ii)]
- This equipment may only be placed back into service and used by employees if repairs and tests necessary to render the equipment safe have been made. [29 CFR 1910.334(a)(2)(ii)]
- Ensure that employees do not plug or unplug portable electric equipment when their hands are wet. [29 CFR 1910.334(a)(5)(i)]
- Ensure the use of safeguards for personnel protection such as electrical protective equipment, as required by the standard. [29 CFR 1910.335(b)]
- Select and use appropriate work practices, as required by the standard. [1910.333]
- Follow requirements for Hazardous (Classified) Locations. [29 CFR 1910.307]
Recognized Controls and Work Practices
- Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI's) on all 120-volt, single-phase, and 15- and 20-ampere receptacles.
- A ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault and prevent injury to the worker.
- Wear and tear on electrical equipment or tools can result in insulation breaks, short-circuits and exposed wires. If there is no ground-fault protection, these can cause a ground-fault that sends current through the worker's body, possibly resulting in electrical burns or electrocution.
- Electrical. OSHA Safety and Health Topics page.
- 29 CFR 1910.305, Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use. OSHA Standard.
- 29 CFR 1910.333, Selection and use of work practices. OSHA Standard.
- 29 CFR 1910.335, Safeguards for personnel protection. OSHA Standard.
- Preventing Fatalities of Workers Who Contact Electrical Energy. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Alert, (1986).
- Electrical Safety: Safety and Health for Electrical Trades Student Manual. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2009-113, (2009).
- Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices--Inspection Procedures and Interpretation Guidelines. OSHA Directive STD 01-16-007, (July 1, 1991).
- Preventing Electrocutions Due to Damaged Receptacles and Connectors. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Alert Publication No. 87-100, (October 1986).
- Electrical Safety. NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topics.