OSHA's Top Five Electrical Violations

Accidents involving electricity are one of the top four killers at construction sites. Each year, approximately 17% of all construction fatalities are a result of an electrical accident.

This tool box talk highlights the recent top five electrical safety violations. This is a good place to start when working with electricity and the problems found at typical jobsites.

#1 Ground fault protection

Electrical circuits and equipment must be protected by either ground fault circuit interrupters or an assured equipment grounding conductor program to protect employees on construction sites.

Ground fault electrical shocks are the most common electrical jobsite hazard. This rule is designed to take away that hazard.

#2 Temporary wiring

Temporary electrical power and lighting wiring methods may be of a class less than would be required for a permanent installation. Except as specifically modified in §1926.405(a)(2) of the construction regulations, all wiring must meet the requirements for permanent wiring. Temporary wiring must be removed immediately upon completion of construction or the pur­pose for which the wiring was installed.

#3 Path to ground

The path to ground from circuits, equipment, and enclosures must be permanent and contin­uous.

Temporary wiring and extension cords are a major part of the construction jobsite. Interrupted equipment grounds are an invitation to disaster.

#4 Flexible cords and cables - Identification, splices, and terminations

The OSHA regulations cover the requirements for flexible cords and cables. This is OSHA's term for extension cords. Covered is requirements for:

·         identifying the grounded conductor (usually green).

·         flexible cord marking requirements (i.e., SJO, STO, etc.).

·         require­ments for splicing/repairing extension cords.

·         strain relief requirements.

#5 Installation and use of equipment

Listed, labeled, or certified equipment must be installed and used in accordance with instructions included in the listing, labeling, or certification.

At times, electrical equipment is installed or used in a manner for which it was not designed. A good example is the multi-receptacle outlet box. It is designed to be mounted but is some times fitted with a power cord and placed on the floor to provide power for various tools.

When not installed, tested, inspected, and used properly, electrical equipment can be deadly. Do not use electrical equipment that is obviously bad.