Ground Fault Electrical Safety

With the wide use of portable tools on construction sites, the use of flexible cords often becomes necessary. Hazards are created when cords, cord connectors, receptacles, and cord- and plug-connected equipment are improperly used and maintained.

Generally, flexible cords are more vulnerable to damage than is fixed wiring. Flexible cords must be connected to devices and to fittings so as to prevent tension at joints and terminal screws. If a cord is exposed, flexible and unsecured joints and terminals become more vulnerable.  Flexible cord conductors are finely stranded for flexibility, but the strands of one conductor may loosen from under terminal screws and touch another conductor, especially if the cord is subjected to stress or strain.

A flexible cord may be damaged by activities on the job, by door or window edges, by staples or fastenings, by abrasion from adjacent materials, or simply by aging. If the electrical conductors become exposed, there is a danger of shocks, burns, or fire. A frequent hazard on construction sites is a cord assembly with improperly connected terminals.

Also, when a cord connector is wet, hazardous leakage can occur to the equipment grounding conductor and to humans who pick up that connector if they also provide a path to ground. Such leakage is not limited to the face of the connector but also develops at any wet portion of it.

To prevent the risk of electrical shock, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and equipment grounding measures. These requirements may help reduce the number of injuries and accidents from electrical hazards.

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