Electrical Safety & Control of Hazardous Energy

Faculty, staff & students need to have an awareness of electrical safety in order to support a safe learning and working environment. Notify Physical Plant of any noticeable electrical hazards; this can protect others from a potential electric shock, fire or explosion.

The Department of Risk Management & Safety, Physical Plant Department and the UE Safety Committee have worked together to compile a webpage offering safety talks on basic issues, such as general electrical safety.  To review any of these talks and other topics, login  with your UVM NetID at the Safety Talks page.  

Extension Cords and Power Strips

Ground Fault Circuit (GFCI) Interrupters

Common Electrical Safety Issues

 

Control Hazardous Energy

Exposure to hazardous energy happens from the unexpected energization or start-up of machines, equipment, or systems. This can cause death or serious injury. Hazardous energy is defined as:

  • electrical energy
  • thermal energy,
  • mechanical energy,
  • hydraulic energy,
  • pneumatic energy,
  • chemical energy, and
  • ionizing and non-ionizing radiation energy.

 

OSHA and Lockout Tagout (LOTO)

in order to prevent serious injuries and potential death, OSHA has specific program requirements for the control of hazardous energy of permanently-wired equipment. Anyone who is servicing or maintaining equipment that is hard-wired should talk to their Laboratory Safety Coordinator and find out what required procedures must be in place and what training is required in order to properly Control Hazardous Energy

This OSHA standard does not apply to electrically-powered machines that can be completely disconnected by unplugging a cord if the cord is under the exclusive control of the person doing the maintenance or repairs.

UVM Physical Plant department has developed UVM’s best resource for guiding departments through having both a written program and written procedures. A hazard analysis is first required to confirm the presence of hazardous energy. If hazardous energy is confirmed, the appropriate lockout procedure must be documented and used.

Extension cords/Power Strips Extension

  • Cords should not be used in place of permanent wiring. If you plan to use an extension cord for an extended period of time, contact UVM Physical Plant Dept to install a permanent outlet.
  • Discard unsafe extension cords. An unsafe cord is one where the outer insulation is cracked or broken. The grounding pin must also be fully intact. 
  • Only licensed electricians are authorized to replace plugs, or splice cords.
  • Extension cords need to be protected from heavy pedestrian traffic to prevent slips, trips and falls.
  • Power strips should not be permanently mounted to a wall or any other structure, even if the power strip has specific mounting fittings.
  • Power strips or extension cords should not be connected to each other. Doing this can overload the circuit creating a potential fire hazard. 

 

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters 

  • GFCIs are designed to protect people from an electric shock. A GFCI works by detecting a current drop from the hot to the neutral wiring in a circuit. The GFCI detects energy that is escaping the circuit.
  • GFCIs should be installed wherever a water hazard is present.
  • GFCIs can be at the breaker, the outlet, incorporated with the plug of the appliance/piece of equipment, or part of a short extension cord.
  • Be careful when using any electrical equipment in or around water.

 

Common Electrical Safety Issues

  • Do not block electrical panels. OSHA requires a 36-inch clearance in front of all electrical panels.
  • Discard any piece of equipment that gives you even the slightest shock. If the resistance through your body is lowered (e.g. standing in water or touching metal), even the slightest shock can be deadly.
  • Junction boxes and electrical panels need to have proper metal covers in place to conceal all wiring. Hard wiring should never be exposed or accessible to those who are not electricians.