By John Rogers, ANAD Safety OfficeMay 16, 2019
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Electrical safety is Anniston Army Depot's Target Zero safety focus area for the month of May.
This month, the Safety Office asks shop personnel to focus on potential electrical hazards which may exist in their shops.
WHAT DO I LOOK FOR DURING A WALKTHROUGH?
A good place to begin the inspection is with some of the everyday equipment operating on electricity.
It could be a computer, milling machine or a welder, but the inspection process is still the same.
• Is the on/off switch present and in good shape? Plugging and unplugging a piece of equipment to turn it on and off is unacceptable.
• Is the wiring/cord for the equipment in good shape? This may be fixed wiring for permanent equipment or flexible temporary wiring for portable equipment. The cords should be inspected for frayed insulation or damaged/cut cords.
• Is the plug in good condition? The electrical cord will typically have a plug attached to the end. The plug should be inspected to see if the insulation is separating from the cord/plug connection. This is often the result of pulling on the cord to unplug the equipment rather than grasping the plug itself.
The condition of the plug should also be observed.
Are the electrical prongs in good shape and not damaged? Is the plug designed for a ground prong (third round prong centered beneath the two vertical prongs) and, if so, is it present?
The ground prong is used to provide a ground circuit to protect metal-encased appliance from becoming energized and presenting a shock hazard to the worker.
• After examining the electrical plug, look at what it is plugged into.
Outlets should be inspected to ensure the cover plate is in place and not damaged, exposing energized electrical components.
Does the outlet grip the device's electrical prongs or does the plug just fall out?
Sometimes, outlet contacts get worn down and will not grip the plug. These plugs should be replaced as this is an indicator of a potentially poor connection and could lead to a fire.
Does the plug show discoloration or damage from arcing? These plugs should also be replaced immediately.
Electrical equipment could also be plugged into a power strip or extension cord.
Care should be taken when using power strips because they are easy to overload.
Only equipment with small power requirements should be used with power strips.
Appliances should never be used with a power strip.
Extension cords should never be plugged into power strips. Extension cords should only be used for temporary use and put up at the end of the work shift.
Just like cords running to equipment, extensions cords should be inspected for damage before each use.
Consideration should also be given to the type of extension cords used. Light duty cords should only be used for short distances and equipment with low power requirements.
Care should also be taken so that extension cords and power strips are not "daisy chained." Daisy chaining occurs when power strips and/or extension cords are plugged into other power strips and/or extension cords because there are not enough electrical outlets in the area.
The recommended solution is to rearrange the work area or install more electrical outlets to support the work being done.
This month, as you tour your shops, spend a little time looking at the electrical equipment. If it is damaged or not correct, stop using it and get it fixed.