May marks National Electrical Safety Month. To remind employers and employees to be conscious of electrical safety and maintain a safe working environment, McDaniel — a 75-year fire service and system vendor — offers the following safety checklist.

  • Don't overload outlets: Using a series of adaptors to connect numerous machines or devices to an electrical outlet may result in an overload, power outage, spark or fire. Do not plug more than two devices into one electrical outlet. If multiple devices must be plugged into one outlet, have a licensed electrician evaluate the demands that can be placed on the power source.
  • Take care with extension cords: If an extension cord must be used, be sure to use an approved (by a national testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories, or UL) and correctly rated extension cord with the particular appliance and location. Electrical cords and extension cords should not be laid across walkways and work areas, where someone can trip on the cord or damage it. If you do need to place an extension cord in a walkway, use a floor cable cover to protect the cord and prevent people from tripping.
  • Practice proper unplugging: When unplugging equipment, do not pull on the cord itself, pull by the plug instead. Pulling on the cord could damage the plug as well as the electrical outlet. If wires are exposed, they may cause shock to a person touching them. All electric cords also should be examined on a routine basis for fraying and exposed wiring.
  • Keep liquids away from electrical devices and outlets: Electrically powered machines may conduct electrical currents to the touch after having liquid spilled on them, which could cause serious electrical shock or even electrocution.
  • Use caution with space heaters: Although spring is bringing warmer weather for most of the country, some employees will continue to use their space heaters in air conditioned environments. Be sure to keep wires, shoes, clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible materials at least three feet from all heaters. Make sure the space heater has been approved by a national testing laboratory and is in compliance with office and building codes.
  • Be careful when cleaning: Disconnect electrical devices before cleaning, adjusting or applying cleaning solutions. If a safety panel is removed to clean or repair parts, replace the panel before restoring power, testing the equipment and returning the machine to service. Also be sure that power cords are clear from the path of the vacuum used by evening cleaning crews.
  • Turn off appliances: Be sure to turn off all appliances at the end of the day, including coffee makers and space heaters. If electrical equipment gives off a strange odor, is unusually warm or malfunctions, promptly disconnect it and call the appropriate maintenance/service personnel.