Q: OSHA inspectors always have a keen eye for extension cords. How could something so ordinary cause such a problem?
A: When it comes to extension or electrical cords, a worst-case scenario could be electrocution. Yet even a minor fall caused by a cord can result in a costly worker’s comp claim.
The simplest way to protect your employees and not be cited is to use extension cords safely.
So what are some shockingly simple extension cord safety tips? Glad you asked!
- Use appropriately rated cords. Extension cords are rated by their gauge of wire and length, type, and use.
- Use 3-wire extension cords.
- Always inspect your electrical cords before use. If you find a cord is damaged, remove it from the work area and tag it to avoid costly fines.
- Pay close attention to the grounding pin as they are easily damaged.
- Exposed wires or damaged sheathing is not allowed.
- Never wrap extension cords with tape for repairs. Tape is an immediate red flag for inspectors.
- Should the cords become damaged they can be repaired if they are returned to their “approved” state.
- Prevention is the best practice to avoid damaging cords.
- Do not let cords get rolled over with carts, equipment, etc.
- Keep cords from being in pinch points.
- Extension cords should be plugged into Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets, which protect employees from dangerous exposure to electrocution. GFCI outlets measure differences in the electrical current going out and back in. If there is a variance, power will be disconnected from the cord. GFCI’s can be directly on the cord, a breaker, or at the outlet.
- Never plug extension cords into one another to get more length. Plugging cords together may reduce the cord’s ability to handle its rated load. Combining multiple cords can lead to fires, equipment failures and electrocution.
- Don’t allow extension cords to become slip and trip hazards. Avoid laying cords in doorways or walkways.
- Avoid using nails and staples to attach cords to walls and doorways. Doing so can damage the cords, leading to No. 3 above.