Electrical safety at home and at work is everyone’s responsibility is the life-saving message today offered jointly by the state Bureau of Construction Codes (BCC) and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOHSA) within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Don’t run the risk of an electrical fire, injury or electrocution. May is electrical safety month.
“Have a basic understanding of your home electrical system, don’t overload it, and make sure it’s updated to handle any increased electrical demands due to renovations or additional appliances,” said BCC Acting Director Keith Lambert. “Don’t attempt electrical work by yourself or electrical wiring which is beyond your skill level. Hire a qualified, licensed electrician to perform any electrical work to protect your family and your home.”
Electrical safety tips for home, school and workplace:
· Never throw water on an electrical fire! Water conducts electricity. Electricity from the fire can shoot through the water and expose you to electrocution.
· Replace worn out electrical cords, switches and outlets.
· Minimize the use of extension cords. Don’t overload extension cords or plug them into one another. Use cords according to indoor/outdoor ratings.
· Install ground fault protection for outlets in the kitchen, bathrooms, garage, crawl spaces and unfinished basements, laundry and utility rooms, and outdoors.
· Don’t overload outlets with too many appliances.
· Charge mobile devices on a desk or countertop – never on a bed or chair that could overheat and catch on fire.
· Don’t overload electrical circuits. Surge protectors protect equipment, but they do not provide protection from the potential hazards of an overloaded circuit.
Lambert said to be aware of warning signs of a possible electrical problem. Call a licensed electrician right away if your circuit breaker trips repeatedly after it is reset. Dim or flickering lights, bulbs that wear out too quickly, or unusually warm or overheated plugs, cords or switches, can all signal possible trouble.
Electrical hazards on the job can be avoided by following MIOSHA standards. The applicable MIOSHA standards are General Industry Part 39, Design Safety Standards for Electrical Systems; Part 40, Safety-Related Work Practices; and Part 86, Electrical Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution; and Construction Safety Part 16, Power Transmission and Distribution, and Part 17, Electrical Installations.
These standards can be found on the LARA MIOSHA website at
“Working with electricity can be dangerous,” said MIOSHA Acting Director Bart Pickelman. “In the past three years, six workers have been electrocuted in Michigan, and eight workers have died as a result of improper lockout.”
Incidental or accidental contact with live conductors, such as electrical panels, is another leading cause of electricity-associated injuries and fatalities.
Using lock-out/tag-out procedures can prevent unexpected machinery movement or energy release and save lives. Never take short cuts or loan a lock or key, and always lock out all energy sources and test to be sure.
When working close to overhead power lines (for example, doing tree trimming), maintain safe distances or ensure the lines have been de-energized. If the work has to be done directly on the lines, the lines must be de-energized or appropriate personal protective equipment must be worn and other safe work practices must be followed.
To ensure compliance with the many MIOSHA standards, employers are encouraged to contact MIOSHA’s Consultation Education and Training Division to request free services by calling 800-866-4674 or submitting an electronic request at www.michigan.gov/cetrca
LARA’s Bureau of Construction Codes, Electrical Division, currently administers and enforces the 2014 National Electrical Code, with Michigan Part 8 amendments and the 2015 Michigan Residential Code. The codes establish standards for the safe installation and maintenance of electrical wiring and equipment in commercial structures and one- and two-family dwellings in Michigan.
When purchasing or using electrical products, look for the independent testing laboratory mark such as the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), to confirm compliance with industry safety requirements.
The Bureau of Construction Codes (www.michigan.gov/bcc) works to ensure that the built environment and the systems within are sound, safe, and sanitary; the public’s health, safety, and welfare is protected; and that, through a coordinated program of code compliance, investigation and training, there is consistent application of standards. The mission of MIOSHA (www.michigan.gov/miosha) is to help protect the safety and health of Michigan workers.
Electrical Safety Month is sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International, a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety. For more information on developing an effective electrical safety program, visit ESFI’s website at www.electrical-safety.org.
This article was printed in the May 15, 2016 - May 28, 2016.