Basic Electrical Safety Policy

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    This policy is intended to establish safety requirements for University faculty, staff and students who may work with or near electrically energized equipment during the course of normal activities. Separate lock out, tag out and electrical safety policies are already in place to cover the service and repair of electrical equipment.


    This policy applies to both Qualified and Unqualified employees.  For the purposes of this policy the following definitions apply:

    Qualified person: One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved.

    Unqualified person: A person who is not a qualified person.  Any electrical system modification must be reviewed by and approved by an electrical supervisor from the appropriate University maintenance division.


    By authority delegated from the University President, the Vice-President for Business Affairs is responsible for the safety of all University facilities. Under this authority, policies are developed to provide a safe teaching, research, service, housing and recreational environment.

    OSHA Electrical Safety Standard 29 CFR 1910.331 – 335
    NFPA standard 70E


    Environmental Health and Safety Division (EH&S)
    EH&S is responsible for the periodic review and updating of this policy.  EH&S will also assist in basic electrical safety presentations when requested.  Inspections to monitor compliance with this and other safety related policies will be performed by EH&S on a routine basis.
    University Departments
    Each University department is responsible for the implementation of the policy within their respective departments. While there are no specific training requirements associated with this policy, any specialized training that may become necessary will be the responsibility of the Department to provide.
    It is the supervisor’s responsibility to enforce this policy.  Supervisors are also responsible for the identification of and correction of potential electrical safety hazards covered by this policy.  Supervisors are expected to identify employees requiring specialized training to safely complete their tasks relative to this policy.
    All employees are required to comply with this policy.  Any concerns related to electrical safety should be reported to supervisors.


    All electrical outlets in completed installations must have a cover, faceplate or fixture canopy.  No storage is allowed in rooms designated for electrical equipment.
    Electrical Panels
    Electrical panels must be kept free of obstructions with at least 3 feet of clearance provided in front of the panel.  Panel doors must be able to open a minimum of 90º and doors must be kept closed unless work is being done to the panel.  Circuit breaker blanks must be installed in open panel slots.  All panels and breakers must be labeled to indicate the circuit’s specific function.

    The movement of circuit breaker switches must not be restricted by tape or other material placed across the breaker. The use of tape to restrict breaker movement is not an acceptable method of lock out/tag out.

    Portable Electric Power Tools
    Electric power tools are required to be plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) either at the extension cord, outlet or at the circuit breaker panel regardless of whether they are used inside or outside of a structure.  Handheld power tools are to be inspected before each use for frayed or damaged power cords. Power tools with observed damage shall be taken out of service until repaired by a qualified person or replaced.  Extension cords used with power tools must be rated for the power demands of the tool and have an intact grounding pin.  Portable electrical equipment must be handled in a manner that will prevent damage to the electrical cord and equipment.
    Power Strips and Extension Cords
    The use of power strips is allowed as long as they are UL listed; have built in overcurrent protection; have cords that are no longer than necessary for the application; should not be used for appliances or equipment requiring a large electrical load (i.e. microwave ovens) and are used within the manufacturer’s guidelines.

    Power strips must not be used in series with other power strips or extension cords.  Extension cords are for temporary use only. The permanent use of extension cords is prohibited. Temporary, as it relates to this policy, is defined as no longer than necessary, but shall not exceed a 90 day period of time.

    Cords must be inspected regularly for damage. External damage to the insulation may be repaired by a qualified electrician. Damage to internal wiring will require disposal of the cord.

    Extension cords must not be run through walls, above ceilings, through window openings, under rugs and floor mats or used in any manner that prevents inspection and risks damage to the cord.  Extension cords running along or across areas of foot traffic must be secure to prevent a tripping hazard.

    Shop made extension cords with receptacle boxes do not meet electrical code requirements and cannot be used.