Electrical Hazards

There are inherent dangers involved when using any electrical equipment and therefore care must be exercised when operating and especially when installing, modifying, and/or repairing any electrical equipment. Electrical shock - the passage of current through the human body - is the major electrical hazard. The diverse types of electrical equipment used in the chemistry department includes lasers, power supplies, electrophoresis apparatus, electrochemical set ups, X-ray equipment, hot plates and heating mantles. Work involving any of these various classes of equipment can lead to serious injuries if prudent electrical practices are not followed. In order to ensure the safe operation of electrical equipment, all electrical equipment must be installed and maintained in accordance with the provisions of the National Electric Code (NEC) of the National Fire Protection Agency.

Modifications and repairs to the receptacle and wiring in the walls are the responsibility of Facilities Services and should not be attempted or carried out by anyone else. Also, it is strongly advised that all work on electrical equipment be carried out by qualified personnel. Before attempting any minor repairs, modifications, or installations of electrical equipment, it is required that the equipment be deenergized and all capacitors safely discharged. Furthermore, this deenergized and/or discharged condition must be verified before proceeding.

When dealing electrical hazards, remember the following:

  • Proper Wiring: The installation, replacement, modification, repair or rehabilitation of any part of any electrical installation must be in compliance with NEC standards, which specify the proper wiring. For any piece of electrical equipment, there must be a switch in a convenient and readily accessible location that will disconnect the main power source to the apparatus in the event of an emergency. Temporary wiring should only be used when absolutely necessary and must be replaced with permanent wiring as soon as possible. Temporary wiring must also comply with NEC codes. Extension cords must be used only as temporary wiring for portable equipment. For permanent equipment, permanent wiring should be installed.
  • Grounding: All equipment should be grounded and fused in accordance with NEC codes.
  • Insulation: All electrical equipment should be properly insulated. Any power cords that are frayed should be replaced and any exposed hot wires should be insulated to prevent the danger of electrical shock due to accidental contact. When working with high voltage equipment, properly rated gloves and matting for electrical protection should be used.
  • Isolation: All electrical equipment or apparatus that may require frequent attention must be capable of being completely isolated electrically. All power supplies must be enclosed in a manner that makes accidental contact with power circuits impossible. In every experimental setup, an enclosure should be provided to protect against accidental contact with electrical circuits. This applies to temporary arrangements as well.
  • When installing, replacing, modifying, repairing, or rehabilitating any part of any electrical installation it is considered prudent practice to be with a person trained in CPR who can provide CPR if needed in case of an accidental electrical shock.
Chemical Hygene Plan - Table of Contents