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# Lab Safety

## Acquaint yourself with the location of the

following safety items within the lab.
a. fire extinguisher
b. first aid kit
c. telephone and emergency numbers : Make
sure that you have handy emergency phone
numbers to call for assistance if necessary.
The number for emergencies is 3003. (No
need to dial 9 for this number). If any safety
questions arise, consult the lab instructor or
staff for guidance and instructions.
Observing proper safety precautions is
important when working in the laboratory to
prevent harm to yourself or others. The
most common hazard is the electric shock
which can be fatal if one is not careful. 2
Electric shock

## Shock is caused by passing an electric current through the human

body. The severity depends mainly on the amount of current and is
less function of the applied voltage.

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Safety Facts
• The threshold of electric shock is about 1 mA which
usually gives an unpleasant tingling.
• For less than 10 mA at the skin level, the person
merely feels a "funny" sensation
• For currents above 10 mA, the person freezes to the
circuit and is unable to let go
• For currents of 100 mA to 1 A, the likelihood of sudden
death is very high
• More than 1 A, the heart experiences a single
contraction, and internal heating is significant.

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Factors affecting human Safety

• Voltage level
• Current flowing in person
• Resistance of body
• Frequency of source
• Duration of shock
• Pathway of current

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Effect of Voltage
What is the voltage required for a fatal current to flow? This
depends on the skin resistance.

## This implies that 110 V can cause about 160 mA

to flow in the body if the skin is wet and thus be
fatal.
In addition skin resistance falls quickly at the
point of contact, so it is important to break the
contact as quickly as possible to prevent the
current from rising to lethal levels.

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• The higher the voltage the higher the current!
• 100-400 V ac is the most lethal voltage
– High enough to cause significant current flow in the body
– Can cause muscles to contract tightly on the energized
equipment.
• At higher voltages, fierce involuntary muscle contractions may throw the
victim away from the hazard.

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Effect of Current
• High current causes heating damage to tissues.
• 10 µ A passing directly through the heart can
cause cardiac arrest. Heart muscle fibers beat
out of sync, so no blood is pumped
• The spinal cord may also be affected, altering
respiration control. 100-1000 mA is sufficient to
induce respiratory arrest and/or cardiac arrest.
• Thermal heating of tissues increases with the
square of the current (I2R).

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Effects of Electric Current in the Human Body
Current Reaction
1 Milliampere Perception level. Just a faint tingle.

## 5 Slight shock felt; not painful but disturbing.

Milliamperes
Average individual can let go. However, strong involuntary reactions to
shocks in this range can lead to injuries.

Milliamperes
(women)

Milliamperes
(men)

## 50-150 Extreme pain, respiratory arrest, severe muscular contractions.*

Milliamperes Individual cannot let go. Death is possible.

## 1,000-4,300 Ventricular fibrillation. (The rhythmic pumping action of the heart

Milliamperes ceases.) Muscular contraction and nerve damage occur. Death is most
likely.

## 10,000- Cardiac arrest, severe burns and probable death.

Milliamperes 9
Effect of Body Resistance

## • Wet skin can have a resistance as low as 150 Ohm.

• Dry skin may have a resistance of 15 kohm.
• Arms and legs have a resistance of about 100 Ohm and
the trunk 200 Ohm.
• Palm resistance can range from 100 Ω to 1 MΩ .
• Nerves, arteries and muscle are low in resistance.
• Bone, fat and tendon are relatively high in resistance.
• Across the chest of an average adult, the resistance is

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Effect of Source Frequency

## • 50-60 Hz current has a much greater ability to

cause ventricular fibrillation than D.C. current.
• At 50-60 Hz, involuntary muscle contractions may
be so severe that the individual cannot let go of
the power source.
• As the frequency gets above about 500 kHz, little
energy passes through the internal organs.

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Effect of Duration

## • The longer the duration, the more severe the internal

heating of tissues.
• With 110-240 V, the individual is incapable of letting go.

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Effect of Pathway
• If the current passes through the brain or heart, (e.g. head to
arm, arm to arm) the likelihood of a lethal result increases
significantly.

## Use one hand!

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Equipment grounding
• Grounding is very important. Improper grounding can be
the source of errors, noise and a lot of trouble. Please
consult the section of "Circuit Ground and Grounding
Practice". Here we will focus on equipment grounding as a
protection against electrical shocks.
• Electric instruments and appliances have equipment cases
that are electrically insulated from the wires that carry the
power. The isolation is provided by the insulation of the
wires as shown in the figure a below. However, if the wire
insulation gets damaged and makes contact to the case,
the case will be at the high voltage supplied by the wires. If
the user touches the instrument he or she will feel the high
voltage.

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If, while standing on a wet floor, a user
simultaneously comes in contact with the
instrument case and a pipe or faucet connected
to ground, a sizable current can flow through
him or her, as shown in the following figure b.
However, if the case is connected to the ground
by use of a third (ground) wire, the current will
flow from the hot wire directly to the ground and
bypass the user as illustrated in figure c.
Equipment with a three wire cord is thus much safer to
use. The ground wire (3rd wire) which is connected to
metal case, is also connected to the earth ground
(usually a pipe or bar in the ground) through the wall
plug outlet.
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Neutral vs Ground
High voltage
Side

Cable
resistance

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Neutral vs Ground

## Voltage across cable resistance

V =I R
V = 100 × 1 = 100 V 18
Grounded vs. Grounding
• The terms grounded and grounding are very similar, but
their meanings are quite different.
• In any electrical circuit, there are two wires needed to
complete any circuit. One is called the "hot wire" and the
other is called "neutral" or "grounded". Sometimes the
neutral wire is referred to as a grounded wire. It is most
correctly referred to as a "grounded neutral conductor,"
but most times referred to as "the neutral" or "the ground
wire".

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Since the neutral or grounded wire is a necessary part of the electrical path,
grounded wires carry electrical current under normal operating conditions. A
grounded wire is required by the National Electrical Code to be white or gray
in color on the customer side of the meter. Grounded wires on the utility side
of the system do not generally have insulation.

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A "grounding" wire on the other hand is a safety
wire that has intentionally been connected to
earth. The grounding wire does not carry
electricity under normal circuit operations. It's
purpose is to carry electrical current only under
short circuit or other conditions that would be
potentially dangerous. Grounding wires serve as
an alternate path for the current to flow back to
the source, rather than go through anyone
touching a dangerous appliance or electrical box.

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• Confusion arises because it is commonly referred
to as a ground wire even though it is more
correctly called a "grounding" wire. Some people
will refer to this wire as the "case ground" since
this wire is typically connected to the cases or
outer parts of electrical boxes and appliances
and tools.
• The grounding wire is required by the National
Electrical Code to be a bare wire, or if insulated, a
green or green with yellow colored insulation.

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3-prong Receptacles

High voltage
(N)
(H)

Ground
(G) 24
High voltage
(H)

Neutral
(N)
Even if grounded
Direct or indirect
conduction

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High voltage
(H)

Neutral
(N)

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Safety Precautions
• Think safety when voltage exceeds 12 V
• Don’t work on energized circuits
• Wear insulating shoes (where static electricity is not a
concern)
• Use one hand when working on energized circuits
• Learn CPR
• Do not work alone while working with high voltages or if
you are using electrically operated machinery like a drill.
• Never leave high voltages on when you are not present.
• Keep one hand in your pocket when probing high voltage
circuits or discharging capacitors.

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• Make sure all high voltage connections are adequately taped
or otherwise insulated to prevent accidental contact by you
or neighboring students.
• After switching power off, discharge any capacitors that
were in the circuit. Do not trust supposedly discharged
capacitors. Certain types of capacitors can build up a
residual charge after being discharged. Use a shorting bar
across the capacitor, and keep it connected until ready for
use.
• If you use electrolytic capacitors, do not put excessive
voltage across them
• Take extreme care using tools that can cause short circuits
if accidental contact is made to other circuit elements. Only
tools with insulated handles should be used.

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• If a person comes in contact with a high voltage, immediately shut off
power. Do not attempt to remove a person in contact with a high
voltage unless you are insulated from them.
• In the event of an electrical fire do not use water. The lab fire
extinguishers are specifically charged for electrical fires. Vacate the
lab and close the door. Do not breath toxic smoke or fumes. Ring the
fire alarm, if one is available.
• Check wire current carrying capacity if you will be using high currents.
The lab power wiring can only handle 15 Amperes continuously.
• Make sure your leads are rated to withstand the voltages you are
using. This includes instrument leads. Common wire insulation is
rated for 600 Volts.
• Avoid simultaneous touching of any metal chassis used as an
enclosure for your circuits and any pipes in the laboratory that may
make contact with the earth, such as a water pipe. Use a floating
voltmeter to measure the voltage from ground to the chassis to see if a
hazardous potential difference exists.
• Make sure that the lab instruments are at ground potential by using the
ground terminal supplied on the instrument
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