Please enable javascript in your browser to view this site!

Electrical Safety

Whenever electrical power is used, there is a danger of injury through electrical shock.

All electrical equipment should be adequately insulated, grounded, or isolated to prevent bodily contact with any source of dangerous potentials. Under certain conditions, people can be severely injured, even from relatively low voltages coupled with high current.

The primary effects of electrical shock are due to current flowing through the body. Electrical burns occur when all or part of the body completes a circuit, connecting the power source with the ground. Although the resistance of dry, unbroken skin to electric current is relatively high, the amount of current necessary to kill a person is small. Therefore, it is easy to exceed lethal levels of current flow, especially if the skin is broken, wet, or dampen with sweat.

    Electrical Safety Basics

    Specific electrical hazards and safe practices are to be covered locally by supervisors and/or EH&S via safety training on standard operating procedures. The following list provides basic electrical safety rules: 

    • Immediately report damaged or malfunctioning items to your supervisor.
      • Take the item out of service and label as damaged.
      • Have the item repaired by a qualified electrician or request a replacement, whichever is appropriate.
    • Equipment and handheld tools should have three-prong plugs and/or double insulation.
      • If grounding prong is missing or damaged.
        • Take the item out of service and label as damaged.
        • Have the item repaired by a qualified electrician or request a replacement, whichever is appropriate.
      • If insulation is damaged.
        • Take the item out of service and label as damaged.
        • Have the item repaired by a qualified electrician or request a replacement, whichever is appropriate.
      • Equipment and handheld tools with three-prongs cannot be used with extension cords with only two-prongs.
    • Portable electric tools shall not be lifted or lowered by means of the power cord.
      • Use ropes instead.
    • Use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-type outlets or portable GFCIs when possible.
      • Especially when outdoors or in other potentially wet areas.
    • Unplug any tool or equipment that generates heat when not in use (e.g. large floor fans).
    • Extension cords cannot be used as permanent wiring (i.e. for longer than 90 days).
      • Nor can they be zip-tied, bolted, etc. to structures or equipment.
    • Do not “daisy chain” extension cords and/or power strips.
    • Prevent damage to the cord and plug.
      • Avoid using nails to secure a cord.
      • Avoid placing cords in walkways or driveways.
    • Only use extension cords rated for the equipment power needs.
    • Avoid overloading electrical outlets.
    • Label all circuit box switches.
    • Leave at least 36” clearance in front of electrical panels.
    • Ensure that no circuits or parts are exposed (e.g. outlet cover plates or electrical panel doors).

    Personal Protective Equipment

    Whenever the risk of electrocution is high, wear proper protective clothing such as:

    • Insulated gloves
    • Eye protection
    • Boots
    • Head gear 

    If you are not sure what to wear, ask your supervisor or contact Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) at:


    Have a question?