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OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
April 4, 2010
Letter # 20070926-7973
Re: Whether extension cords may be repaired and returned to use.
Question: Where an extension cord being used in construction has been damaged near the plug end, is it permissible to replace the plug with an approved cord cap made for that type of cord, provided the repair is done by a qualified electrician?
Answer: Extension cords used in construction may be repaired, so long as the repair returns the cord to the "approved" state required by §1926.403(a).
This section states, "All electrical conductors and equipment shall be approved."
The repair of cords and cord sets is permitted under 1926.404(b)(1)(iii)(C):
Each cord set, attachment cap, plug and receptacle of cord sets, and any equipment connected by cord and plug, except cord sets and receptacles which are fixed and not exposed to damage, shall be visually inspected before each day's use for external defects, such as deformed or missing pins or insulation damage, and for indications for possible internal damage. Equipment found damaged or defective shall not be used until repaired. (Emphasis added.)
Repairs of extension cords are therefore permitted under §1926.404(b)(1)(iii)(C). However, in order to remain compliant with §1926.403(a), the repairs must return the equipment to the state in which it was initially approved.
Similar repairs are discussed in our May 19, 2003 letter to Barry Cole:
To satisfy the requirements of the OSHA standards, a repair would have to restore the tool to its "approved" condition in accordance with §1926.403(a). Tools ... are approved as complete factory-produced entities. The approval is for the tool as a whole - its design, capacity, materials and construction. This provision precludes the use of an approved tool if its characteristics are materially altered.
If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.
Bill Parsons, Acting Director
Directorate of Construction