The hazards associated with the use of electrical equipment in the laboratory include electrical shock and fire. Electrical shock can result from working with faulty equipment or in a wet environment without the proper precautions. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) must be used in all wet applications. Fires can result for over loaded outlets or circuits. Sparks for electrical equipment can ignite fumes from flammable liquids. The following precautions should be used when working with electricity in the lab or field.
- Never obstruct electrical panels or disconnect switches. A three foot clearance should be maintained to allow access in case of a fire or electrical accident.
- Do not overload outlets, circuits or wiring.
- Extension cords can only be used for a short-term temporary situation. Long term use of extension cords is an OSHA violation.
- Never plug double up extension cords. Ensure the extension cord used is rated for the electrical current to be used.
- Always inspect electrical equipment and cords before use.
- When working around water, always use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).
- Never handle electrical equipment when wet.
- Use caution when working around flammable liquids. Be aware of electrical ignition sources.
- Never store flammable liquids in a regular refrigerator.
- Report faulty equipment to the lab manager immediately. The equipment should be taken out of service and marked accordingly (Lockout/Tagout).
- If a breaker or GFCI trips, you should notify the lab manager immediately. Failure to do so could result in a fire.
- All electrical connections in the wet lab must be approved by the lab manager.
Other useful links:
- Electrical Safety in the Lab
- Power House Electrical Safety
- Zapped Video
- Lockout Tagout
- How does a GFCI work?