Personal Protective Equipment

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

Employees who work directly with electricity should wear the appropriate personal protection equipment for the job. Rubber insulating gloves, hoods, sleeves, matting, blankets, line hoses, and industrial protective helmets are some of the items that can be used to lessen the risk of electric shock. These aid in the prevention of electrical mishaps.

  • Electrical protective equipment must be tested on a regular basis in accordance with the test tables outlined in OSHA 1910.137, Electrical Protective Equipment.
  • Before each day’s use, insulating equipment must be inspected for damage. Before and after each usage, inspect any PPE you use, including insulating equipment.
  • Insulating equipment that has faults that could impact its insulating characteristics must be taken out of operation and tested.
  • Except for the hands, feet, head, and face, which may be protected by other PPE, arc-rated protective gear and other protective equipment must normally cover the worker’s whole body.

Work Practice Controls

Before utilizing portable equipment, your employer must visually inspect, maintain, and, if necessary, replace extension cables and other flexible leads that are particularly prone to damage to plugs and sockets and their connections. The outer sheath of flexible cables should always be firmly secured to prevent the wires from pulling out of the terminals.

Selecting and implementing acceptable work procedures is required [29 CFR 1910.333].

  • To join lengths of wires together, use the proper cable connectors or couplers and avoid taped junctions.

  • A qualified person installs and maintains electrical installations, and they are tested on a regular basis.

  • 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.

Safe Work Practices When Using Extension Cords

Portable Tool Use with Extension Cords

Extension cables are subjected to a lot of abuse in the construction industry. The insulation is usually merely damaged, exposing electrified conductors. Serious electrical shock can occur if a person handling the damaged cable encounters the exposed wires while holding a metal tool box or contacting a conductive surface, resulting in a fall, severe injury, or death.

Repairing Extension Cords

Who can repair an extension cord if a construction worker inspects it and determines it needs to be repaired? Damaged electrical cords can be repaired by anyone who is qualified, but in most circumstances, it is advisable to discard the cord. To fix a standard extension cord, the worker does not need to be a qualified electrician. He or she must, however, have the knowledge and abilities to properly repair the chord, understand the risks associated in the repair, and be able to convey what might happen if the repair is done incorrectly. It is the employer’s responsibility to determine whether or not the person is qualified. Normally, the determination is made from the standpoint of the electrical business. (Photo courtesy of OR-OSHA.)

Extension Cord Safety Tips

The appropriate use of extension cords is crucial for your safety. An extension cable can quickly deteriorate over time if it is used frequently, posing a risk of electric shock or fire. The following are some safety advice from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) for avoiding electric shock and electrical fires:

  • Extension cords should not be overloaded or run through water or snow on the ground.

  • Extension cables should not be used to replace permanent wiring.

  • Running through walls, doorways, ceilings, or floors is not a good idea. When a cord is covered, heat cannot escape, thus posing a fire risk.

  • Use an extension cord for only one appliance at a time.

  • If you use a lot of extension cables, it means you don’t have enough outlets to meet your needs. Install more outlets where you’ll need them.

  • Multiple plug outlets cannot be connected together; they must be plugged directly into mounting electrical receptacles.

  • Check that the extension cord or temporary power strip you’re using is rated for the products you’ll be plugging in and is labelled for indoor or outdoor use.

  • The wattage rating of the appliance or instrument with which you are using the cord will be listed on it. Use a cord with the same rating as your extension cord, and avoid using a cord with a lower rating.

  • Never use a cord that is hot to the touch or has been damaged in any way. You can get an electric shock or a burn by touching even a single exposed strand.

  • When using outlets with only two slots for the plug, never use three-prong plugs.

  • To force a fit, don’t chop off the ground pin.

  • This defeats the purpose of a three-prong plug and could lead to an electrical shock. Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.

  • Use extension cords with polarized and/or three-prong plugs.

  • Buy only cords approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek (ETL), or Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

How to Conduct an Accident Investigation?

Who should investigate?

Investigations should be led by supervisors, line managers, or other people with sufficient status and knowledge to make recommendations that the organization will respect. The person to conduct many investigations will be the Department Manager or Supervisor of the person/ area involved because they:

  • Know about the situation.

  • Know most about the employees.

  • Have a personal interest in preventing further incidents/accidents affecting ‘ their ’ people, equipment, area, materials.

  • can take immediate action to avoid a similar incident.

  • can communicate most effectively with the other employees concerned.

  • Can demonstrate practical concern for employees and control over the immediate work situation.

When should the investigation be conducted?

To get the most information, the inquiry should be conducted as quickly as possible following the incident. There may be challenges in immediately establishing the investigation — for example, if the victim is taken from the accident scene or if a particular specialist is unavailable. It is advantageous to conduct an investigation right away because:

  • Witnesses’ memories of the events are still fresh.

  • Witnesses have had less time to speak (people have an almost natural tendency to adapt their version of events to fit a consensus perspective).

  • Physical conditions have had less time to change.

  • More people are likely to be available, for example, delivery drivers, contractors, and visitors, who will quickly disperse following an incident, making contact very difficult.

  • There will probably be the opportunity to take immediate action to prevent a recurrence and to demonstrate management commitment to improvement.

  • Immediate information from the person suffering the accident often proves to be most useful.

Consideration should be given to asking the person to return to the site for the accident investigation if they are physically able, rather than wait for them to return to work. Although not as valuable, a second option would be to visit the injured person at home or even in hospital (with their permission) to discuss the accident.

Accident Investigation Method

There are four basic elements to a proper investigation:

  1. Collect facts about what has occurred.
  2. Assemble and analyze the information obtained.
  3. Compare the information with acceptable industry and company standards and legal requirements to conclude.
  4. Implement the findings and monitor progress

Information should be gathered from all available sources, for example, witnesses, supervisors, physical conditions, hazard data sheets, written systems of work, and training records. However, the amount of time spent should not be disproportionate to the risk. The investigation should explore the situation for possible underlying factors and the immediately obvious causes of the accident. For example, it would not be sufficient to conclude that an accident occurred because a machine was inadequately guarded in a machinery accident. It is necessary to look into the possible underlying system failure that may have happened.

Investigations have three facets, which are particularly valuable and can be used to check against each other:

  • Direct observation of the scene, premises, workplace, the relationship of components, materials, and substances being used, possible reconstruction of events and injuries or condition of the person concerned.

  • Documents including written instructions, training records, procedures, safe operating systems, risk assessments, policies, records of inspections or tests and examinations carried out.

  • Interviews (including written statements) with persons injured, witnesses, people who have carried out similar functions or examinations and tests on the equipment involved, and people with specialist knowledge.

Immediate cause:

A detailed investigation should look at the following factors as they can provide useful information about immediate causes that have been manifested in the incident/accident.

Personal factors:

  • The behavior of the people involved.
  • Suitability of people doing the work.
  • Training and competence.

Task factors:

  • Workplace conditions and precautions or controls.
  • The actual method of work adopted at the time.
  • Ergonomic factors.
  • Normal working practice, either written or customary.

Underlying and root causes:

A thorough investigation should also look at the following factors as they can provide useful information about underlying and root causes that have been manifested in the incident/accident:

Underlying causes are the less obvious system or organizational reasons for an accident or incident, such as:

  • Supervisors did not make pre-start-up machinery checks.

  • The hazard had not been considered in the risk assessment.

  • There was no suitable method statement.

  • Pressures of production had been more important.

  • The employee was under a lot of personal pressure at the time.

  • Have there been previous similar incidents?

  • Was there adequate supervision, control, and coordination of the work involved?


Root causes involve an initiating event or failing from which all other causes or failings arise. Root causes are general management, planning, or organizational failings, including:

  • Quality of the health and safety policy and procedures.

  • Quality of consultation and cooperation of employees..

  • The adequacy and quality of communications and information.

  • Deficiencies in risk assessments, plans, and control systems.

  • Deficiencies in monitoring and measurement of work activities.

  • Quality and frequency of reviews and audits.

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