177 Healthcare: Electrical Safety

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Electrical Safety

Electricity
Most electrical faults can be seen by visual inspection.
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Introduction

Electricity is used daily. However, if uncontrolled or misused it can severely burn, injure, or kill you or cause fires with devastating results. However, most electrical faults can be seen by visual inspection.

  • Ensure electrical equipment is suitable for the working environment (especially if it is or could be wet, corrosive, flammable or subject to impact damage).
  • Connect all equipment to fixed sockets, where possible.
  • Ensure that all socket circuits are protected by a Residual Current Device (RCD).
  • Test the RCD on a regular basis.
  • Avoid the use of extension leads and multiple adaptors.
  • Never swap equipment leads between devices.
  • Have a recorded inspection and maintenance program for all electrical equipment.
  • Train staff to carry out visual inspections for damage (such as exposed wires and scorching on plugs, leads and cables) and report faults.
  • Take faulty equipment out of use immediately until repaired. Clearly label as faulty or remove the plug to prevent use.
  • Never clean or adjust appliances when the power is switched on.
  • Never touch light switches or appliances with wet hands.

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1. What should be done FIRST if you notice a piece of faulty equipment?

a. Tell supervisor
b. Write it down on a piece of paper
c. Take it out of use immediately
d. Nothing

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Recognized Hazards

Electrical Hazards
There are many electrical hazards to be aware of in the healthcare setting.

It is necessary for healthcare workers and employers to comply with OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910 Subpart S - Electrical. Normal and regular use of electrical equipment can cause wear and tear that result in insulation breaks, short-circuits, and exposed wires. Electrical equipment shall be free from recognized hazards [29 CFR 1910.303(b)(1)].

  • All electrical cords should have enough insulation to prevent direct contact with wires. In a healthcare setting, it is particularly important to check all cords before each use, since corrosive chemicals or solvents may erode the insulation.
  • Damaged cords should be repaired or taken out of service immediately, especially in wet environments such as cold rooms and near water baths.

Any of the following circumstances requires that the user immediately take the equipment out of service:

  • experiencing shocks, even mild shocks, upon contact
  • abnormal heat generation
  • arcing, sparking, or smoking from the equipment

Healthcare workers must label the equipment, “Do Not Use” and should arrange for equipment repair either through the equipment manufacturer or through their department support as appropriate.

2. All electrical cords should have enough _____ to prevent direct contact with wires.

a. insulation
b. strength
c. length
d. coloring

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Labeled Equipment

Arc Flash
Listed or labeled equipment shall be used or installed in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.

Listed or labeled equipment shall be used or installed in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling [29 CFR 1910.303(b)(2)]. In the past, critical safety information and equipment specs for electrical equipment in healthcare facilities were printed on an adhesive label and put directly on the equipment. Now, due to NFPA 70E, a barcode or QR code can be used to link to a central database. This database gives workers access to the necessary hazard information, including voltage, current and energy levels, as well as other important information.

With this change, electrical workers can:

  • increase safety
  • make more informed decisions based on historical data
  • save time
  • reduce costs

3. Why are more organizations labeling equipment with a barcode or QR code?

a. Decreases safety
b. Saves time
c. Increases costs
d. Helps worker make uninformed decisions

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Defective Insulation
Insulation that is defective or inadequate is an electrical hazard.

Defective Insulation Hazards

Repair all damaged receptacles and portable electrical equipment before placing them back into service [29 CFR 1910.334(a)(2)(ii)].

Insulation that is defective or inadequate is an electrical hazard. Usually, a plastic or rubber covering insulates wires. Insulation prevents conductors from coming in contact with each other and with people.

Extension cords: Extension cords may have damaged insulation. When insulation is damaged, exposed metal parts may become energized if live wires contact one another.

Tools: Electric machinery that is old, damaged, or misused may have damaged insulation inside. If you touch damaged equipment, you will receive a shock. You are more likely to receive a shock if the equipment is not grounded or double-insulated.

You must recognize that defective insulation is a hazard.

4. _____ prevents conductors from coming in contact with each other and with people.

a. Training
b. Coding
c. Critical thinking
d. Insulation

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Personal Protective Equipment

PPE
Employees who work directly with electricity should use the personal protective equipment required for the jobs they perform.

Use safeguards for personnel protection and electrical protective equipment [29 CFR 1910.335(b)].

Employees who work directly with electricity should use the personal protective equipment required for the jobs they perform. This equipment may include rubber insulating gloves, hoods, sleeves, matting, blankets, line hose, and industrial protective helmets that are designed to reduce electric shock hazard. These help to reduce the risk of electrical accidents. General safe practices include:

  • Electrical protective equipment must be periodically tested in accordance with the test tables found in OSHA 1910.137, Electrical Protective Equipment.
  • Insulating equipment must be inspected for damage before each day's use. Insulating equipment found to have other defects that might affect its insulating properties shall be removed from service and returned for testing.
  • The arc-rated protective clothing and other protective equipment generally must cover the worker's entire body, except for hands, feet, head and face, which may be protected by other PPE.

5. When should insulating equipment be inspected?

a. End of the workday
b. Lunchtime
c. Before each day’s use
d. Management Commitment and Employee Involvement

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Work Practice Controls

Work Practice Controls
It is necessary to select and use appropriate work practice controls.

Your employer is required to make sure extension cables and other flexible leads which are particularly prone to damage to plugs and sockets and to their connections are visually checked, maintained and where necessary replaced before using portable equipment. The ends of flexible cables should always have the outer sheath of the cable firmly clamped to stop the wires from pulling out of the terminals.

It is necessary to select and use appropriate work practices [29 CFR 1910.333].

  • Use the correct cable connectors or couplers to join lengths of cables together and do not allow taped joints.
  • Electrical installations are installed and maintained by a competent person and checked regularly.
  • Make sure socket outlets are not overloaded using adaptors.
  • Make sure electrically powered equipment provided is suitable for use.
  • Fixed electrical equipment should have a clearly identified switch to cut off power in an emergency.
  • Verify that portable equipment labeled as being double insulated has had the live and neutral wire connected properly to the plug by a competent person unless the plug is of a molded type.

6. Who should inspect electrical installations regularly?

a. Competent person
b. Incompetent person
c. Front line employee
d. OSHA

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Safe Work Practices

Electrical Safety
There are several things that can be done to reduce risk of injury or fire when working with electrical equipment in a healthcare facility.

The following practices may reduce risk of injury or fire when working with electrical equipment in a healthcare facility:

  • Keep away from the energized or loaded circuits.
  • Sources of electricity and exposed circuits must be guarded.
  • Disconnect the device from the source in the period of service or maintenance of the device.
  • Disconnect the power source before servicing or repairing electrical equipment.
  • Handling the equipment that is plugged in, if it is necessary, hands or contacting parts must be dry and, wear non-conductive gloves and insulated-sole shoes.
  • If it is safe to work with only one hand, keep the other hand away from all conductive material. This step helps reduce accidents that result in current passing through the chest cavity.
  • Utilization of electrical equipment in cold rooms must be minimized due to condensation issues. If it is imperative to use such areas, the equipment must be fixed on a wall or vertical panel.
  • If the device interacts with water or other liquid chemicals, equipment power must be shut off at the main switch or circuit breaker and unplugged.
  • If an individual comes in contact with live electricity, do not touch the equipment, source, cord or individual. Disconnect the power source from the circuit breaker or pull out the plug using a leather belt.

7. If someone comes into contact with live electricity, they should not _____.

a. run away
b. train the victim to remain calm
c. touch equipment, source, cord, or individual
d. turn power back on

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Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s)

GFCI
The ground-fault circuit interrupter is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault and prevent injury to the worker.

Employers should use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI's) on all 120-volt, single-phase, and 15- and 20-ampere receptacles.

Wear and tear on electrical equipment or tools can result in insulation breaks, short-circuits, and exposed wires. If there is no ground-fault protection, these can cause a ground-fault that sends current through the worker's body, resulting in electrical burns, explosions, fire, or death. Even when the power system is properly grounded, electrical equipment can instantly change from safe to hazardous because of extreme conditions and rough treatment.

The ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault and prevent injury to the worker.

When you "ground" an electrical system, you intentionally create a low-resistance path that connects to the earth. This prevents the buildup of voltages that could cause an electrical accident.

Grounding is normally a secondary protective measure to protect against electric shock. It does not guarantee that you won't be shocked, injured, or killed by an electrical current. It will, however, substantially reduce the risk.

8. Grounding is normally a _____ protective measure to protect against electric shock.

a. primary
b. poor
c. unnecessary
d. secondary

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Other OSHA Standards

OSHA
There are many relevant OSHA Standards for electrical safety in the healthcare industry.
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There are many other relevant OSHA Standards for electrical safety in the healthcare industry:

  • Sufficient access and working space shall be provided and maintained around all electric equipment to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance of such equipment [29 CFR 1910.303(g)(1)].
  • Ensure that all electrical service near sources of water is properly grounded [29 CFR 1910.304(g)(6)(vi)].
  • Tag out and remove from service all damaged receptacles and portable electrical equipment [29 CFR 1910.334(a)(2)(ii)].
  • Ensure that employees are trained not to plug or unplug energized equipment when their hands are wet [29 CFR 1910.334(a)(5)(i)].

To learn more about electrical safety in the workplace, check out OSHAcademy courses 115 Electrical Safety for Employees: Basic, 615 Electrical Safety: Hazards and Controls, and 715 Electrical Safety for Technicians and Supervisors.

9. When should employees plug or unplug energized equipment?

a. When hands are wet
b. When hands are dry
c. When a co-worker is around to supervise
d. Employees should never unplug energized equipment

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Final Exam
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