Electrical Cord Safety

Electrocution continues to rank as the fourth highest cause of death in the construction industry. One person is electrocuted in the home every 36 hours. One person is electrocuted in the workplace every 24 hours. Selecting the right extension cord for the job can eliminate many hazards to start with. All cords should be UL listed, properly grounded, and meet other applicable electrical code specifications. The thickness of the cord should be same as, or greater than, the cord of the tool being powered.

Extension cord safetyExtension cords are items that get considerable usage. Before use, inspect the cord for damage, such as nicks, cuts, or abrasions in the outer insulation. Look for loose or missing plug blades, and indications of overheating or burning, especially on the plug. Make sure the plug is securely attached to cable. The plug should be molded to the cord or have a clamping mechanism that fits snugly around the cord without pinching.

Electrical tape is not approved for repairing an extension cord. Damaged equipment should be tagged “DO NOT USE” and removed from the jobsite. Remember, repairs to extension cords are to be performed by a licensed electrician.

When you use an extension cord, try to keep it out of aisles and other places where pedestrians or other workers might trip over it. Avoid placing it in high traffic areas where it could be damaged by aerial lifts, forklifts, or other mobile equipment. Extension cords are intended to supply temporary power and should be unplugged when not in use.

The only electrical device designed to protect YOU is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

Extension cordGround prongs, fuses, and breakers are for fire safety – not protection of human life.
Always plug a GFCI into the outlet first before connecting your extension cord.

Remember this:

  • Inspect all extension cords daily for damage and missing grounding prongs.
  • Use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter to protect against any electrical fault.
  • Keep extension cords away from foot traffic to prevent tripping and cord damage. The insulation in cords and electrical tools can become damaged. If a live wire touches exposed metal parts inside a tool, it can become energized.

DO NOT use extension cords/flexible wiring

  • Where frequent inspecition would be difficult
  • Where damage would be likely
  • For long-term electrical supply as a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure.

In addition, NEVER USE

  • a metal outlet box, Romex, or nonmetallic cable as an extension cord.
  • staples or nails to hold cords in place multiple cords connected together; instead, use one long cord