Toolbox Talk - Extension Cords

Toolbox Talk - Extension Cords

Electrocution continues to rank as the fourth highest cause of death in the construction industry. One person is electrocuted in the home every 36 hours. One person is electrocuted in the workplace every 24 hours. Selecting the right extension cord for the job can eliminate many hazards to start with.

All cords should be UL listed, properly grounded, and meet other applicable electrical code specifications. The thickness of the cord should be same as, or greater than, the cord of the tool being powered. Electrical cords are designed to provide for a certain amount of electricity to be drawn through the cord (usually expressed as “amps”, or amperage). Overloading a cord by using it to power equipment that draws too much current can cause it to over-heat, possibly starting a fire. Check the tag on the cord or the packaging it came in to determine the maximum amperage for which the cord is rated, and compare that to the amperage drawn by the equipment attached to that cord.

Extension cords are items that get considerable usage. Before use, inspect the cord for damage, such as nicks, cuts, or abrasions in the outer insulation. Look for loose or missing plug blades, and indications of overheating or burning, especially on the plug. Make sure the plug is securely attached to cable. The plug should be molded to the cord or have a clamping mechanism that fits snugly around the cord without pinching. If you find a cord that is being used improperly, or is damaged, please notify your supervisor immediately, or turn it in to the person(s) responsible for replacement and/or repair. DO NOT try to repair a cord unless specifically authorized. Your quick action could prevent an unfortunate accident from occurring.Do not run electrical cords through doorways, windows or other holes in buildings. If the door or window gets closed, the cord can become pinched, which can damage the outer jacket of the cord. Damaged equipment should be tagged “DO NOT USE” and removed from the jobsite. Remember, repairs to extension cords are to be performed by a licensed electrician. When you use an extension cord, try to keep it out of aisles and other places where pedestrians or other workers might trip over it. Avoid placing it in high traffic areas where it could be damaged by aerial lifts, forklifts, or other mobile equipment. Cords intended for indoor use only are not designed to stand up to extreme outdoor conditions, such as cold, ice, wetness, or excessive heat. These conditions can weaken the cord and cause it to deteriorate, which could lead to cord damage. Check the tag on the cord or the packaging it came in to determine where it is, and is not, designed to be used. All cords used in construction are to be rated as “Hard Service” (marked S, SE, SO, or ST) or “Junior Hard Service” (marked SJ, SJE, SJO, SJT, or SJTO) and must have a grounding wire.

Extension cords are intended to supply temporary power and should be unplugged when not in use.

The only electrical device designed to protect YOU is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

Ground prongs, fuses, and breakers are for fire safety – not protection of human life. Always plug a GFCI into the outlet first before connecting your extension cord.