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Category: Safety Products & Services
Volume: 42
Issue: 1
Article No.: 25615

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SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Electrical Safety
Recently I have been investigating some electrical fires that were started by electrical temporary power drops better known as "power strips". These potentially deadly electrical devices can be found in your factories, your offices and especially your homes. Many people purchase these devices in stores like Dollar Tree, Walmart, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowes and elsewhere.

Most of these temporary power drops/power strips are manufactured in China and Mexico and many have prominent well-known names on the box. Many of these temporary power drops/power strips have been manufactured with undersized wiring which can overheat and cause a fire in your offices, your factories or worse in your homes. The only way that you can tell if you have a recalled power strip is to go to the Consumers Product Safety Commissions website www.cpsc.gov. Electricity is an essential power source in modern, automated offices. However, electrical equipment is potentially hazardous and can cause serious shock and burn injuries if improperly used or maintained.

Electricity travels through electrical conductors, whether the conductors are wires or parts of the human body. Moist skin as well as most metals offer little resistance to the flow of electrical current and can easily conduct electricity. A shock will occur if a part of the body comes in contact with an electrical circuit.

The electrical current enters the body at one point and leaves at another. The passage of electricity through the body can cause great pain, burns, destruction of tissue, nerves, and muscles, and even death. Electrical accidents usually occur as a result of faulty or defective equipment, unsafe installation, or misuse of equipment by office workers.

Electrical hazards commonly found in unsafe offices include:

  • Ungrounded Equipment. Most fixed equipment such as large, stationary machines must be grounded.
  • Typewriters and coffee pots do not have to be grounded. However, much of the newer office equipment is manufactured with grounded, three-prong plugs as a precaution. Never remove the grounding prong from any three-prong plug.
  • Insufficient or Overloaded Outlets. Overloading electrical circuits and extension cords can cause fires.

Unsafe/Non-Approved Equipment
Workers should not use or bring to work coffee makers, radios, lamps, etc. which are poorly maintained, unsafe, or low in quality and not approved by a national testing laboratory. Such appliances can develop electrical shorts and create fire and/or shock hazards. Equipment and cords should be inspected regularly, and a qualified individual should make repairs. Files and bookcases may push tightly against plugs in electrical outlets, severely bending the cord at the plug.

Walkways and Work Areas Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis and when used should be unplugged at night. Do not run extension cords across walkways or aisles. If you must run a cord across a walkway, either tape it down or use a cord runner to avoid creating a tripping hazard.

Plugs
To remove a plug from an outlet, firmly grip the plug and pull it from the outlet. Never pull a plug by the cord.

Equipment
Disconnect electrical machines before cleaning, adjusting, or applying flammable solutions. If you remove a guard to clean or repair parts, replace the guard before testing the machine or returning it to service.

Blocking Electrical Panel Doors
Electrical panel doors should always be kept closed and no materials should be stored against them. Panel doors and anything in front of them will become very hot if an electrical malfunction occurs.

So, in closing this month, if you really want to protect a life, look at all of your power strips, temporary power drops, surge protectors or whatever name you give them, write down the name of the manufacture, the model number and look on the CPSC government site. The life you save, maybe your own.

For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.

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