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Electrical Safety in the Office

December 14, 2017

The office is probably not the first place you think about when thinking of electrical hazards. Unfortunately, potential hazards can be found in many office settings.

 

The large amount of electrical equipment in the office can expose workers and visitors to electrical hazards. The holiday season can increase the risks due to the desire to add Christmas lights and other decorations.

 

Take the following steps to minimize the risk of electrical incidents in the office:

  • Even when using a surge protector, make sure the electrical load is not too much for the circuit

  • Ensure all appliances are turned off before leaving work at the end of the day

  • Use only grounded appliances that can be plugged into grounded three-prong outlets

  • Do not use appliances with cracked, frayed or broken cords

  • Keep walkways and doorways clear of clutter and extension cords

  • Do not run electrical cords through high-traffic areas, under carpets or across doorways

  • Never hang or suspend extension cords with staples, nails or wires

  • Check plugs to ensure they fit securely into outlets; however, never attempt to force a plug into an outlet

  • Be aware that loose-fitting plugs can potentially cause equipment to overheat and catch fire

  • Check that all appliances in your office have been approved by an independent testing laboratory

 

Portable Space Heaters in the Office

 

Portable space heaters are often used in the workplace to provide supplemental heat during the colder months and in cooler offices throughout the year. Unfortunately, space heaters can increase the risks of fire and electric shock if not used properly.

 

Follow these space heater safety tips to avoid incidents:

  • Employees should be required to obtain approval from a supervisor or facility manager prior to using a space heater in the workplace

  • Keep a minimum of 3 feet of clearance in front of electrical panels

  • Never use extension cords or power strips with space heaters

  • Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater

  • Do not leave space heaters unattended

  • Portable space heaters should be certified by an independent testing laboratory (e.g., UL)

  • Keep space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways to avoid a tipping or tripping hazard

 

 Contact us for more information on this and other safety topics or for a complimentary safety review.

 

See our article Picking the Right Cord for the Job post for additional information.

 

References:

  • NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®

  • NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code®

  • National Electrical Code (NEC)

  • Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)

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