Electrical contact occurs when a person, object, or equipment makes contact or comes in close proximity with an energized conductor or equipment that allows the passage of current.
Energized refers to something that is electrically connected to a source of potential difference, or electrically charged so as to have a potential significantly different from that of earth in the vicinity.
What are the hazards associated with electrical contact and electricity?
Failure to follow basic electrical safety principles can result in equipment and property damage (e.g., due to fire), severe shock and burns, and electrocution.
What can I do to protect myself?
Employees should examine cords used to connect equipment for signs of wear, especially missing insulation or exposed wiring. Extension cords with three-prong plugs that are missing grounding pins should be removed from service until the plug can be replaced or a replacement cord obtained. Employees using extension cords in construction-related activities or in wet locations must ensure they have ground-fault circuit interrupter protection. Report to your supervisor any electrical problems you observe while at the workplace.
What resources are available to assist employers?
Safety and Health Programs
The electrical safety-related work practices policy and lockout/tagout program can be downloaded and customized to fit the individual workplace. An example PPE hazard assessment is available and can be customized to fit workplace conditions. Employers are required to perform a workplace hazard analysis to determine what personal protective equipment is necessary to protect employees from continued exposure to identified hazards.
Training and Outreach Services
The presentations on electrical safety, personal protective equipment (PPE) and lockout/tagout may be useful when dealing with electrical hazards. They can also be modified to meet the needs of the employer's worksite.
In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.
Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).
A-Z Safety and Health Topics
The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.
Which standards apply?
OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to electrical safety in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic.
- 29 CFR 1910.132 - personal protective equipment, general requirements
- 29 CFR 1910.137 - electrical protective equipment
- 29 CFR 1910.147 - the control of hazardous energy
29 CFR 1910 Subpart S - Electrical
- 29 CFR 1910.301 - introduction
- 29 CFR 1910.302 - electric utilization systems
- 29 CFR 1910.303 - general
- 29 CFR 1910.304 - wiring design and protection
- 29 CFR 1910.305 - wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
- 29 CFR 1910.306 - specific purpose equipment and installations
- 29 CFR 1910.307 - hazardous (classified) locations
- 29 CFR 1910.308 - special systems
- 29 CFR 1910.331 - scope
- 29 CFR 1910.332 - training
- 29 CFR 1910.333 - selection and use of work practices
- 29 CFR 1910.334 - use of equipment
- 29 CFR 1910.335 - safeguards for personnel protection
- 29 CFR 1910.399 - definitions applicable to this subpart
Maritime, Shipyard Employment
- 29 CFR 1915.132 - portable electric tools
- 29 CFR 1915.181 - electrical circuits and distribution boards
29 CFR 1926 Subpart K - Electrical
- 29 CFR 1926.400 - introduction
- 29 CFR 1926.402 - applicability
- 29 CFR 1926.403 - general requirements
- 29 CFR 1926.404 - wiring design and protection
- 29 CFR 1926.405 - wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
- 29 CFR 1926.406 - specific purpose equipment and installations
- 29 CFR 1926.407 - hazardous (classified) locations
- 29 CFR 1926.408 - special systems
- 29 CFR 1926.416 - general requirements
- 29 CFR 1926.417 - lockout and tagging of circuits
- 29 CFR 1926.431 - maintenance of equipment
- 29 CFR 1926.432 - environmental deterioration of equipment
- 29 CFR 1926.441 - batteries and battery charging
- 29 CFR 1926.449 - definitions applicable to this part
Other Applicable Standards
The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.
Where can I learn more?
- NCDOL Investigates: Electrocutions provides an overview of the investigation process for fatalities resulting from electrocution.
- Standards Notice: SN 09 - Determining Hazardous (Classified) Locations in Unventilated Pits or Depressions Below Grade in Commercial Garages applies the guidance in NEC and OSH general industry standards to unventilated pits and depressions in commercial garages to determine whether they should be classified as Class I, Division 1 or Class I, Division 2 locations.
- Standards Notice: SN 10 - Requirements for Portable Lamps in Vehicle Service Garages discusses the safety requirements for portable hand lamps that are used by employees servicing vehicles.
- Standards Notice: SN 19 - Class I and Class II, Division 2 Hazardous Locations for Spray Finishing clarifies what constitutes Class I or Class II, Division 2 hazardous locations surrounding spray finishing operations.
- Standards Notice: SN 49 - Ground-Fault Protection in Construction Operations presents responses to several recurring questions that have arisen since the initiation of enforcement of the ground-fault protection requirements in 29 CFR 1926.404(b) for construction operations.
- Industry Guide 48 - OSHA Construction Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training, provides requirements for standards related to electrical safety in construction.
- Industry Guide 49 - OSHA General Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training, provides requirements for standards related to electrical safety in general industry.
- Industry Guide 53 - OSHA Shipyard Employment Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training, highlights the requirements of standards related to electrical safety in shipyard employment.
If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 919-707-7876.