1.4: Types Of Electrical Hazards Found In An Office Environment
Grounding is a method of protecting employees from electric shock. By grounding anelectrical system, a low-resistance path to earth through a ground connection is intentionally created. When properly done, this path offers sufficiently low resistance and has sufficient current-carrying capacity to prevent the build-up of hazardous voltages. Most fixed equipment such as large, stationary machines must be grounded.
Smaller office equipment, such as typewriters and coffee makers, would generally not fall into these categories and therefore would not have to be grounded. However, much of the newer office equipment is manufactured with grounded plugs as a precaution. In such cases, the equipment should be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. In any case, never remove the grounding prong from any piece of equipment.
Insufficient or overloading of electrical outlets should be avoided. A sufficient number of outlets will eliminate the need for extension cords. Overloading electrical circuits and extension cords can result in a fire. Floor mounted outlets should be carefully placed to prevent tripping.
The use of poorly maintained or unsafe, poor quality, coffee makers, radios, lamps, space heaters, etc. (often provided by or used by employees) should be discarded. Such appliances can develop electrical shorts creating fire and/or shock hazards. Equipment and cords should be inspected regularly and a qualified individual should make repairs.
Defective, frayed or improperly installed cords for electrically-operated office equipment
When the outer jacket of a cord is damaged, the cord may no longer be water- resistant. The insulation can absorb moisture, which may then result in a short circuit or excessive current leakage to ground. If wires are exposed they may cause a shockto a worker who contacts them. These cords should be replaced. Electric cords should be examined on a routine basis for fraying and exposed wiring.
Improper Placement of Cords
A cord should not be pulled or dragged over nails, hooks, or other sharp objects that may cause cuts in the insulation. In addition, cords should never be placed on radiators, steam pipes, walls, and windows. Particular attention should be placed on connections behind furniture since files and bookcases may be pushed tightly against electric outlets, severely bending the cord at the plug.
Electrical Cords Across Walkways and Work Areas
An adequate number of outlet sockets should be provided. Extension cords should only be used in situations where fixed wiring is not feasible. However, if it is necessary to use an extension cord, never run it across walkways or aisles due to the potential tripping hazard. If you must run a cord across a walkway, either tape it down or use a cord runner.
Live Parts Unguarded
Wall receptacles should be designed and installed so that no current-carrying parts will be exposed and outlet plates should be kept tight to eliminate the possibility of shock.
Pulling of Plugs to Shut Off Power
Switches to turn equipment on and off should be provided in the equipment or in the cable itself, so that it is not necessary to pull the plugs to shut off the power. To remove a plug from an outlet, take a firm grip on and pull the plug itself. Never pull a plug out by the cord.
Working on “Live Equipment”
Disconnect electrical machines before cleaning, adjusting, or applying flammable solutions. If a guard is removed to clean or repair parts, replace it before testing the equipment and returning the machine to service.
Blocking Electrical Panel Doors
If an electrical malfunction should occur, the panel door and anything else in front of the door will become very hot. Electrical panel doors should always be kept closed to prevent “electrical flashover” in the event of an electrical malfunction.