Safe Work Practices
The following practices may reduce the 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.
Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s)
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.