Electrical malfunctions account for 7,100 fires totaling over $207 million in non-residential building loss in 2016 according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The NC Fire Code prohibits the use of electrical hazards that could contribute to a building fire or an electrical shock injury. Help keep UNCP and your students, faculty and staff safe with the following office power guidelines.
Trying to deal with an inadequate supply of power can lead to overloading. In an office, you have multiple electrical appliances. You will find it more economical to use many wires and cables in order to use the single available outlet and this is where problems start. Your use of power strips and surge suppressors indicates that you need more outlets.
Surge protectors must be plugged directly into the wall and are not to be used in conjunction with extension cords or daisy-chained together. The device is not designed to handle that much electricity. Additionally, plug appliances should be directly plugged into wall outlets.
Power and Extension Cords
It is common to overemphasize the safety risks involved in electrical materials while forgetting the danger involved in using power cords. In fact, these should be the main source of concern because of the power load that runs through them. Visual inspection is important to detect any fraying or cracking which would require immediate attention. What’s more, the way they are used determines the risk they pose. For instance, they should never be folded, hung with staples, nails or wires especially when in use.
In addition, you should only use cords that are certified by recognized institutions such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). It is also important to ensure power is off when connecting a cord to an outlet. More importantly, never force a plug into a socket or tamper with the internal component of a plug.
It is important to avoid the permanent use of extension cords, they can only be used on a temporary basis per NC Fire Code.
Know the Dangers Signs
You can only prevent what you know and when it comes to electrical fire safety, you should have an idea of the signs to lookout for. For instance, look for frayed cord covers, cracked plugs or naked wires. Is an appliance giving off a strange smell? Unplug it immediately. Overheating is another danger sign and if you realize cords are hot or the appliances you are using are warming up rapidly, stop use and contact Facilities Operation at 910.521.6233 .
It is also important to stash cords away from the floor where an employee might trip on them.
When thinking about where electrical hazards are commonly found, your first thought likely isn’t your office. However, electrical equipment used in offices can be hazardous and result in serious injuries if not properly maintained. Follow these tips to help prevent exposure to workplace electrical hazards:
- Ensure all appliances are turned off before leaving work at the end of the day;
- Use only grounded appliances that can be plugged into grounded three-prong outlets;
- Is an appliance giving off a strange smell? Unplug it immediately;
- Do not use appliances with cracked, frayed or broken cords;
- Keep walkways and doorways clear of clutter and extension cords;
- Never hang or suspend extension cords with staples, nails or wires;
- Check plugs to ensure they fit securely into outlets; however, never attempt to force a plug into an outlet;
- Be aware that loose-fitting plugs can potentially cause equipment to overheat and catch fire;
- Check that all appliances in your office have been approved by an independent testing laboratory; and
- Keep a minimum of 3 feet of clearance in front of electrical panels.