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Electrical Safety

Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.

Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. OSHA's electrical standards are designed to protect employees exposed to dangers such as electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions.

Applicable University Policies

EH&S Policy 3-1: Extension Cords 

EH&S Policy 3-2: Lockout/Tagout 

EH&S Policy 3-3: Campus Electrical Safety 

Summary of Requirements
  • The requirements of electrical safety are specified in the National Electric Code and cover all areas of electrical work at the university.
  • Work performed must be done by a licensed electrician and in accordance with the National Safety Code.
  • The use of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) as a device to protect a person from electric shock when he or she.
  • OSHA has promulgated specifications which affect high voltage distribution systems within the university, that need to be considered in the installation of new equipment.
  • Use of personal protective equipment when employees are working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with, and shall use, electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed.
Training

The training requirements apply to employees who face a risk of electrical shock that is not reduced to a safe level by the electrical installation requirements of 1910.303 through 1910.308. Employees in occupations facing a higher than normal risk of electrical incidents are required to be trained. Additionally, employees who may reasonably be expected to face comparable risk of injury due to electric shock or other electrical hazards must also be trained.  Employees shall be trained in, and become familiar with, the safety-related work practices required by 1910.331 through 1910.335 that pertain to their respective job assignments.

Inspections
  • All power tools and appliances must be free of cracks, fraying, heat damage and insulation damage.
  • Any electrical control, disconnect switches, and transformers must not be blocked in a manner that will impede access to the devices. The regulations require a minimum of three feet of clearance.
  • All equipment must have grounded three-prong plugs.
  • Live parts to which an employee may be exposed shall be de-energized before the employee works on or near them, unless the employer can demonstrate that de-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards or is infeasible due to equipment design or operational limitations. Live parts that operate at less than 50 volts to ground need not be de-energized if there will be no increased exposure to electrical burns or to explosion due to electric arcs.
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