OSHA AND ELECTRICITY: KEEPING THE FACTORY FLOOR SAFE (GUEST POST)

by pat brownlee on June 11, 2013

Sent to us by Maire Hunter.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets regulations to ensure employees’ safety. These requirements apply to all industries, especially construction and factory work.

In addition to an employer following safety guidelines, employees working on or around electrical equipment should have safety training. OSHA regulations align with the standards set by the National Fire Protection Association in NFPA 70E.

General OSHA regulations for electrical use in any industry

  • Electrical cords may not be modified.
  • Ground prongs can’t be removed from any cord or plug.
  • Extension cords must have three wires, one wire being grounded.
  • Cords, fittings and connections must have a strain relief.
  • Shut-offs or disconnects must be clearly identified on all equipment.
  • All electrical equipment must be inspected before use. Defective equipment must be taken out of service.
  • Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) must be used in typically wet locations.

Requirements for wiring and safe operation

  • All electrical wire, equipment and conduit must be approved by either Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual Corporation (FMC).
  • When energized equipment or lines are exposed, effective barriers or temporary fencing must be used.
  • High-voltage equipment (600 volts or more) must be isolated.
  • Temporary wiring, used during construction, remodeling or repairs, must meet National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements.
  • Temporary wiring must be removed immediately after the work is completed.
  • Exposed electrical wires must be protected.

When it comes to protecting electrical wires, a metal or plastic conduit is the best choice. Conduit materials include aluminum, cast zinc, galvanized steel, steel and PVC.

Partial list of conduit requirements

  • Any wiring installed in a conduit must be protected by bushings at the end of the conduit.
  • Liquid tight conduit and weatherproof connections must be used in outdoor locations.
  • The NEC has regulations for the maximum number of wires allowed in any given conduit. The number of wires depends on the diameter, American Wire Gauge and type of wire.
  • Most metal conduits can be used as equipment ground conductors. Plastic conduits must have a separate ground conductor. The ground conductor must also be identified.
  • Spacing between conduits is required for safe access during repair work.

Normally, if an accident occurs, OSHA will become involved and may conduct safety assessments. In addition to OSHA guidelines, the NEC applies to all construction work and all commercial electrical use. Compliance with NEC requirements is normally checked during stages of building inspection. Insurance companies may require further inspection for compliance.

Following the guidelines set by OSHA will help protect the health and safety of employees. A reduction in accidents may reduce insurance rates and will reduce lost time from work. While ignoring regulations may not result in an accident, the potential fines levied by OSHA can be significant.

All workers who work around electricity should be furnished dielectric personal protective equipment, such as dielectric glasses and gloves. pb

 

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