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Electrical cord dangers on construction sites

Before you and your co-workers begin the day's work, someone should have inspected every tool and piece of equipment that you will use, including the electrical cords and plugs. OSHA has developed standards for these that everyone on the construction site should know and follow.

Here are some tips to prevent electrical hazards that could lead to shocks and burns.

Extension cords

You should never use an extension cord with a power tool unless the cord is three-pronged, and if the grounding pin is missing, you should immediately tag the cord and remove it from use. You should be able to find a marking that indicates someone has tested the cord for continuity within the last three months, but you should also inspect the cord visually each time before you use it. In addition, extension cords:

  • Should not take the place of fixed wiring
  • Should not extend through a hole in a wall, ceiling or floor
  • Should have insulated individual wires

Power tool cords and plugs

These cords and plugs require quarterly continuity inspections and daily visual inspections, as well. Anytime you see a cord with missing insulation or frayed wires, you should immediately remove it from service and tag it for repair so no one accidentally uses it.

If a power tool is double insulated, the plug should have two prongs, but otherwise, it should have three. Double-insulated tools have a plastic casing and a logo of a square inside a square or a label indicating that it is double insulated. One of the two prongs on this type of plug is wider than the other, and you must plug it in correctly because the thin pin is the hot conductor and the wide pin is neutral. Your tool's switch controls the thin pin, and if it is not in the right circuit, the tool does not receive power. A connection between the circuit's hot conductor and the tool's neutral pin could shock you.

If you receive a serious electrical shock while working on a construction site, you may be eligible for workers' compensation. If the injury is due to a defective cord or a third party's failure to ensure the electrical components meet safety standards, you may also be able to file a personal injury claim for further compensation.

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