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Toolbox Talk: Extension Cord Safety

By February 1, 2021 No Comments

Extension cords are one of the most extensively used construction electrical products. If they are not used with caution, extension cords pose risks ranging from overheating at the least to becoming a fire hazard at the most, which may result in property damage and even loss of life.

Electrical outlets are not always available in the exact location where they are needed. When the need for electricity is temporary, extension cords can be a quick way to supply the necessary power to get a job done.

Extension cords must not be used in place of permanent wiring, and they must be used correctly to maintain safety.

Keeping Cords in Good Condition

  • Check power cords and plugs daily, discard if worn or damaged
  • Have cords that feel more than comfortably warm checked by an electrician
  • Pull the plug, not the cord:
    • Do not disconnect power supply by pulling or jerking the cord from the outlet
    • Pulling the cord causes wear and may cause a shock
  • Never break off the third prong (ground) on a plug
  • Replace broken three prong plugs and make sure the third prong is properly grounded

Power Cords Safely, “Do Nots”

  • Do not use or drag power cords near or though heat, water, and oil; they can damage the insulation, or cause a shock
  • Do not affix electric extension cords to ceilings or walls using staples or metal nails, as such sharp objects can damage the safety jacket of these cords
  • Do not use extension cords as permanent wiring
    • Use extension cords only to temporarily supply power to an area that does not have a power outlet
  • Do not bypass the tool’s ON/OFF switch by connecting and disconnecting the power cord
  • Do not allow vehicles or equipment to pass over unprotected power cords
    • Cords should be put into electrical conduits or protected by placing them between two pieces of lumber of suitable strength
  • Do not plug several power cords into one outlet
    • This can lead to overheating and potentially fires
  • Do not plug different extension cords  in that are not supposed to be plugged together—it can lead to equipment failure, electrocution or fire
    • Length determines the ratings of the power cord
    • Even if two identical power cords are plugged into each other, their current capacity is reduced in half, which, in turn, may result in a drop in the voltage, overheating or even a serious fire hazard

Electrical safety can be simplified by following a few simple rules regarding the use of extension cords. These rules are easy to implement and greatly enhance the safety quotient of jobsites.

Remember, safety is built on step at a time!