Extension Cords – Hazards in the workplace

Extension Cords

Extension cords are critical to the success of any job site. They bring electricity to every corner of a work area, allowing us to use power tools to perform work and lights to see what we are doing. While extension cords are extremely useful, they can also be extremely hazardous. Whenever you set up an extension cord, think through how you are going to control the fire, electrocution, and trip hazards it presents.

Fire Hazards

Improper use of an extension cord can cause it to overheat and start a fire. Extension cord fires are frequently caused by overloading a cord or using a cord that has been damaged. To reduce the fire hazard posed by extension cords:

  • Check your extension cord’s rating before plugging it in. Make sure any appliances you are connecting to the extension cord are within the cord’s capacity. Connecting appliances that draw more power than the cord can safely supply will cause the cord to heat up.
  • If you notice that the plug, socket, or any part of the length of the cord is warm or hot to the touch, unplug it and verify that the cord is not overloaded. Extension cord overheating can also be caused by deteriorated connections between the plug or socket and the cord’s wires. Damaged extension cords should be taken out of service and replaced.

Electrocution Hazards

Any work with electricity has the potential to cause electrocutions. Today’s extension cords have built-in safety features that protect users from electrical current, but they must remain intact to be effective. To control the electrocution hazard posed by extension cords:

  • Do not make unauthorized modifications to your extension cords. This includes trimming or clipping plug blades, cutting and splicing extension cords together, and patching damaged cord insulation with electrical tape. All of these modifications could leave part of the cord’s plug blades or wires exposed, which greatly increases the user’s risk for electrocution.
  • Do not run extension cords through areas where they are likely to become wet or damaged, such as puddles, doorways, or high-traffic areas.

Trip Hazards

Extension cords add to the clutter on floor surfaces, and they can lead to slips, trips, and falls if they are not positioned properly. To minimize the trip hazard posed by your extension cords:

  • Run your extension cord along walls whenever possible to minimize the need for others to step over it.
  • Leave slack in your extension cord so it can rest on the surface of the floor rather than being pulled taut. Even an inch of space between the floor and the extension cord greatly increases the cord’s trip hazard.
  • If your extension cord is too short to run along a wall and rest on the floor, switch it out for a longer cord that can set up safely.

Small to mid-size employers use Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) such as LCR Resource, Inc. to assist them in keeping a safe work place. PEO’s can assist in training staff through toolbox talks and establish safety practices to eliminate potential risk factors. Give us a call to find out more (915) 701-2325

Stay Safe!

Source: Texas Mutual Insurance Company

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