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  Electrical Hazards

Burns and shocks are the two major risks posed by electricity.  Contact with electricity under certain circumstances can cause severe internal and/or external burns.   In other situations, contact can cause shocks that interrupt the normal activity of the brain and/or heart and lead to unconsciousness or death.

The rule of danger governing most events of burn or shock is that electricity will follow the path of least resistance.  If that path passes through your body, then you are subject to injury or death.  Avoiding contact with an electrical current is the basis of all electrical safe-work practices.

Any electrical equipment that produce a "tingle" or a "shock" should be reported promptly for repair.  Call Facilities Services at X8955.   "Shorts" in electrical equipment can become extremely hazardous, particularly where contact may readily be made against the metal framework of an exhaust hood, a damp floor, or a metal door.  Do not rely on grounding to mask a defective circuit.  Do not attempt to correct a fault by insertion of a fuse of larger capacity than the original one.

Keep the use of extension cords to a minimum and the cords as short as possible.   Do not overload electrical outlets.  Be sure insulation and wire size of any necessary extension cords are adequate for the voltage and current to be carried.   Extension cords should not be used in place of permanent wiring.  If possible, additional fixed outlets should be installed. 

Work on electrical devices should be performed only by qualified individuals and only after power has been disconnected or shut off and suitable precautions taken to keep the power off during the work. OSHA Regulation (Lock Out/Tag Out) 29 CFR 1910.147  On portable equipment, the power cord should be unplugged and secured so that power cannot be accidentally turned on by someone else.  On stationary equipment, the main power switch should be shut off and locked with a padlock;  shutting off and blocking starter switches is not safe enough since an internal short can bypass the switch and start equipment. 

Contact with electrical currents is prevented by using insulation and other barriers.   Barriers can be a chain-link fence around a transformer, the cover plate on a piece of equipment, an electrical panel, or the rubber cover on an extension cord.  Some action is required, such as removing a cover plate or opening a junction box, before you can normally be exposed to an electrical current. The best safety precaution is to never dismantle equipment or open electrical boxes unless you have been trained to do so and assigned the task by a supervisor. If you see bare wires or fuses, immediately report them to Facilities Services.

Almost all machinery, power tools, and lighting use at least some electrical power. When working around electricity, you must follow a number of safe-work practices.

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


Tools and Equipment


Any employees who work on or near exposed energized parts must be trained on the safe work practices for working with electrical equipment. OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1910.301-.339 Managers must identify at risk workers and document appropriate training.

University of the Sciences in Philadelphia • 600 South Forty-third Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495 • phone: 215-596-8800 • email: