General Electrical Safety

BGSU Environmental Health and Safety

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Electrical Injuries Classification of Exposure Electrical Hazards Electrical Hazard Control

Electrical Injuries
Electrocutions:  1970s: 600-700 per year  1990s: 300-400 per year (NIOSH, 1998)
5th leading cause of occupational fatalities.
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7% of total deaths, ranked after motor vehicle crashes, homicide, falls, and mechanical trauma. Each year, electrical accidents cause as many as 165,380 electrical fires and 7,000 injuries.

Classification of Exposure
High Voltage  >600 volts: typically associated with “outdoor” electrical transmission. Accounts for 60% of electrocutions (OSHA). Note: some people classify >480 volts as high voltage. Low Voltage:  <600 volts: typically associated with “indoor” electrical service. Accounts for 32% of electrocutions (OSHA). Low voltage does not imply safe voltage.

Electrical Hazards • Shock :Conductors vs. Resistors :Grounding :The Ground Fault Accident :GFCIs • Burns • Falls • Fire .

• Severity of the shock depends on: – Path of current – Amount and type of current – Duration of exposure • Electrocution is a fatal electrical injury. .Electrical Hazards Electrical Shock • Shock occurs when current passes through the body.

aluminum. air. . rubber. copper. Resistors • All materials exhibit some resistance to electrical current. glass. • Materials with low resistance are called conductors (ex.Electrical Hazards Conductors vs. water). most plastics). • Materials with high resistance are called resistors (ex. gold.

Conductors vs. Human tissues and body fluids are relatively good conductors because of high water content. causing a harmful. shock. . electricity will instantly pass through the body to the ground. potentially fatal. So if a person touches an energized bare wire or faulty equipment while grounded. Resistors continued…   Electrical Hazards  Electricity wants to find the path of least resistance to the ground.

a lowresistance path to earth through a ground connection is intentionally created. . This path offers low resistance and has sufficient current-carrying capacity to prevent the build-up of hazardous voltages. A three pronged cord offers a grounding connection. By grounding an electrical system.Electrical Hazards Grounding     Grounding is a method of protecting employees from electric shock.

no ground prong. A two prong plug has a hot prong and a return prong. . In any case. Three wires for each cord and terminal. never remove the third (grounding) prong from any three-prong piece of equipment. Black wire (hot wire). is connected to the switch and fuse and carries the power. returns the power. Green (or ground wire).Grounding continued…   Electrical Hazards     White wire (neutral or common wire).

Electrical Hazards .The “Ground Fault” Accident • A ground fault accident occurs when a person touches or grasps an electrically energized object while the feet or other body parts are in contact with the ground or a grounded surface. • In some cases a ground fault accident occurs when the opposite hand touches the ground or a grounded object.

causing cardiac arrest and death. The current went through her body as a result.Electrical Hazards Ground Fault Accident Example A woman was putting up her Christmas tree. Her other hand was touching a metal coffee table leg for support. her finger was touching the metal prong on the plug. When she went to plug in the strands of lights. .

The shock was intensive enough to stop her breathing. She got a shock but survived.Electrical Hazards Electrical Shock Example A worker came out of the bathroom with her hands dripping wet. She survived this time as well. Not paying attention she washed over an outlet. and reached down to plug in a lamp. The same worker was cleaning walls with a sponge and a bucket of soapy water. which also gave her a shock. .

GFCI’s turn off or “trip” the circuit whenever the leakage is greater than 5/1000 of an ampere. For comparison two 60 Watt light bulbs draw a total of 1 ampere of current. GFCI’s are designed to detect any leakage of current in an electrical circuit. .Electrical Hazards Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters (GFCI’s)     GFCI’s are to be used when using electrical equipment in a wet environment.

employees should use one of these types of GFCI’s.Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters (GFCI’s)   Electrical Hazards Three types of GFCI’s A GFCI receptacle used in place of standard receptacle. Whenever working in a wet area. A portable GFCI plugs into a standard receptacle. or outdoors. A GFCI circuit breaker combines leakage current detection with the function of a circuit breaker.    .

• Common sites of visible skin burns are the hands and feet.Electrical Hazards Electrical Burns • Most common nonfatal electrical injury. • Types: – Internal: “deep tissue”. – Skin: “entry” and “exit” points. . – Arc: “flash” burns from heat and radiant energy.

.Electrical Burns continued…  Electrical Hazards  Circuits may produce electrical burns with relatively massive amounts of tissue destruction by heating the tissues. This is due to the physical property of friction from the passage of electrons and by destruction of cell membranes by producing holes in the membranes.

The victim exhibited deep tissue destruction along the entire current path.Electrical Hazards Electrical Burns Example A worker was mounting a large mirror onto the wall of an office. . He was using a metal power tool which accidentally severed a wire causing a shock and massive burns. along with surface tissue damage at the point of entry and exit.

Electrical Hazards Falls   Involuntary muscle contractions can “throw” workers and cause falls. . the fall may cause serious injury or death. If working at elevation.

Detectives discovered that the grounding prong was missing from the drill's plug. The electrical current caused muscle contractions strong enough to throw the man from the building. A short-circuited electric drill was found dangling from the building's top floor. allowing electricity to flow through the victim's body to the ground. .Electrical Hazards Example of a Fall Due to Electricity A worker fell from the top of a 12-story building and landed on the concrete below. A nail was lodged in the rubber tread of the work boot. resulting in death.

broken and cause a fire. trash and spider webs increases the potential for fire to start in the electrical system. .Electrical Hazards Fire     In the United States 25% of fires are caused by electricity. Electrical wiring can be hit when drilling holes or driving nails in walls causing a fire. Unprotected light bulbs in work areas are another potential hazard. They can be hit. A build-up of dust.

or misuse of the power delivery system.Electrical Hazards Fires continued…    Many fires result from defects in. physical damage. Such wiring should be replaced and new circuits installed. . overloading. Wiring often fails due to faulty installation. heat. moisture and weather. aging and deterioration by chemical action.

ceiling fans. air conditioners. From the main electrical panel. wires run in different directions throughout the house/building to power lights. outlets. . and various other direct-wired electrical appliances.Electrical Hazards Fires continued…  Typical home and office electrical systems run like this: – – The electrical service enters the house and connects to a main electrical panel.

This is why electrical fuses or circuit breakers are used in the main electrical panel.Electrical Hazards Fires continued… – – – When electricity flows through a wire. Their function is to sense the overloading of circuits (and short circuits) and shut off power to that branch circuit before the wires get too hot and start a fire. the wire heats up because of its resistance to the flow of electrical current. Both the size of the wire and how many electrical devices on the circuit are drawing electricity affect the amount of heat generated in the wire. .

Electrical Hazards Fires continued… – – – To keep the wire from getting too hot and starting a fire. The homeowner or worker can plug in and run too many appliances on the same circuit at one time and overload the circuit. . circuit wiring attempts to contain the amount of electrical load on the branch circuit by limiting the number of potential electrical appliances that can be running at the same time on that circuit. For example. only so many outlets are put on one branch circuit or larger pieces of electrical equipment are put on circuits dedicated to that equipment only.

Electrical Hazards Fires continued… – – – Each circuit must be protected by a fuse or circuit breaker that will blow or “trip” when its safe carrying capacity is surpassed. check for shorts and other faults in the line or devices. If a fuse blows or circuit breaker trips repeatedly while in normal use (not overloaded). . Do not resume use until the trouble is fixed.

Use extension cords only when necessary and make sure they are heavy enough for the job. (CDC) .Electrical Hazards Fires continued…    It is hazardous to overload electrical circuits by using extension cords and multiplug outlets. Avoid creating an “octopus” by inserting several plugs into a multi-plug outlet connected to a single wall outlet.

Electrical Hazards Fires continued…     Dimmed lights. . iron or power tool. When using a high wattage device such as a heater. Try to connect into a circuit with little electrical power demand. Keep the total load at any one time safely below maximum capacity. turn off all unnecessary lights and devices. reduced output from heaters and poor television pictures are all symptoms of an overloaded circuit.

Injuries and fatalities may result from fire (secondary events).Electrical Hazards Fire continued…   Property damage is a primary event resulting from fire. .

G.Electrical Hazards Electrical Fire Example at B. The power ran through a spare breaker because the circuit was very hot. A drop cord was found to be the cause. In McDonald North. but damage to the wall and carpet. The cord had been damaged by the bed post. leaving frayed wires. The fire was detected by the smoke and heat detectors and help arrived in time for the fire to be extinguished. a fire broke out in a student dorm room.S. No injuries. .U.

never run it across walkways or aisles. – – It causes a potential tripping hazard. However. DO NOT use extension cords as permanent wiring. It wears down the insulation. if it is necessary to use an extension cord.Electrical Hazard Control    Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis in situations where fixed wiring is not feasible. They may not be able to carry the load. .

sparked. Replace or repair electrical appliances that over heated.Electrical Hazard Control continued…   Wall receptacles should be designed and installed so that no current-carrying parts will be exposed. smoked or have damaged cords or cracked equipment. . shorted out. and outlet plates should be kept tight to eliminate the possibility of shock.

Electrical tape or any other kind of tape is not adequate! Cords in areas of water or other conductive liquid must be approved for those locations. This may break the wire or insulation. run over or wrapped around objects. knotted or twisted. Short circuits are usually caused by bare wires touching due to breakdown of insulation. . they may cause a shock to a worker comes into contact with them. Cords should not be hung on nails.Electrical Hazard Control continued…      If wires are exposed.

Electrical Hazard Control continued…     When the outer jacket of a cord is damaged. These cords should be replaced immediately. . the cord may no longer be water-resistant. The insulation can absorb moisture. which may then result in a short circuit or excessive current leakage to the ground. Electric cords should be examined on a routine basis for fraying and exposed wiring.

.Electrical Hazard Control continued…  Electrical cords should be examined visually before use on any shift for external defects such as: – – – – – fraying and exposed wiring loose parts deformed or missing parts damage to outer jacket or insulation evidence of internal damage such as pinched or crushed outer jacket  If any defects are found the electric cords should be removed from service immediately.

. Pulling the cord could break a wire. causing a short circuit.Electrical Hazard Control continued…  Pull the plug not the cord.

Electrical Hazard Control continued…    Plug your microwave or any other large appliances into an outlet that is not shared with other appliances. Do not tamper with fuses as this is a potential fire hazard. . Do not overload circuits as this may cause the wires to heat and ignite insulation or other combustibles.

Electrical Hazard Control continued…     Keep office equipment properly cleaned and maintained. . Always use lights bulbs with the recommended wattage for your lamp and ceiling fixtures. Be aware of the odor of burning plastic or wire. Ensure lamps are free from contact with flammable material.

All electrical appliances should have the label of a testing laboratory. .Electrical Hazard Control continued…    ALWAYS follow the manufacturer recommendations when using or installing new office equipment. Wiring installations should always be made by a licensed electrician or other qualified person.

Water is VERY conductive! Reference: . .Overloading! Reference: http://www.

Missing grounding prong! Reference: .safteng.

Missing outlet cover! Reference: .

net .Electrical tape is not a fix! Reference: http://www.safteng.

Pinched cord! . .Damaged casing! Reference: http://www.

Any Questions? .

Where to Get More Information   http://www. Bowling Green State University 372-2171 . Occupational Safety and Health