Environmental Health and Safety

Electrical Safety


Incidents involving electricity can cause burns, explosions, shocks, and death, and are a major cause of building fires. The Electrical Safety Program has been developed to help individuals recognize and avoid electrical hazards. The goal is to reduce and manage the risk of electrical arc flash hazard, shock, equipment damage, and fire.

Basic Electrical Safety

  • Keep your work area clean and orderly. This reduces the chance of accidents and prevents the accumulation of combustibles as well as flammable materials in the workplace
  • Extension cords shall only be used for temporary power supply with portable equipment.
  • Power strips must be plugged directly into a building outlet.
  • Inspect all electric tools and equipment before use for damaged or frayed power cords. Remove frayed or defective extension and power cords from the workplace.
  • Use insulated hand tools and double insulated power tools. Portable ladders used for electrical tasks shall have non-conductive side rails.
  • Remove all metal jewelry, rings, and watches before working on electrical equipment.
  • Never work around a source of electricity when you, your surroundings, or your tools are wet.
  • Use Ground Fault Interrupters (GFI’s) when working outside, near wet areas or when using extension cords.
  • All live parts operating at 50 volts or greater shall be guarded against accidental contact.
  • De-energize all electrical equipment before beginning service or repairs. If you are not a qualified electrician you should not be servicing any electrical equipment. Utilize the Colleges’s Lock/Tag/Verify Program. Verify that equipment is de-energized before work begins.

Creating a safe work environment and utilizing safe work practices are the keys to avoiding electrical hazards. If you are not a qualified electrician you should not be servicing any electrical equipment. If you are a qualified individual, always be aware of your work environment and exercise safe working procedures.

Lockout / Tagout

OSHA estimates that nearly 40 million maintenance workers could be exposed to unexpected machine start-ups or releases of stored energy while performing service work on equipment. Developing and implementing a comprehensive lockout/tagout program has proven to be a safe and effective way for reducing these types of incidents. Lockout/Tagout refers to the complete isolation of equipment during maintenance or service work. OSHA regulations 29 CFR 1910.147 and 1926.416 require the use of locks or tags as warning devices to ensure employees are not injured from accidental machine start-ups. Service and maintenance employees need to be trained in the recognition and use of locks and tags, their applications, and personnel requirements.

This program establishes the minimum requirements for disconnecting hazardous energy sources before servicing, maintenance, or repairs take place. Lockout is the required method of controlling personnel exposure to hazardous energy sources. Equipment hazardous energy sources are turned off, physically locked, and verified to be de-energized before employees begin maintenance or repair work that could otherwise pose a significant safety hazard.

Each authorized employee shall receive training in the recognition of hazardous energy sources, the type and magnitude of the energy available in the workplace, and the methods and means necessary for energy isolation and control.

Red Personal Danger Locks & Tags

An individually keyed RED lock shall be applied anytime the owner is exposed to a hazardous energy source. The key must be under the control of the employee when the lock is in use, and the lock shall not be left on equipment when the employee is not on site. All persons installing a red personal danger lock shall also install an accompanying tag that includes their name and how the individual can be contacted. The tag approved for use at Cornell is a white “Danger” tag with red stripes and black lettering.

Yellow Caution Locks & Tags

Yellow caution locks and tags are used to indicate equipment as being out of service. These machines and systems must not be turned on or used until an authorized employee has removed the lock and tag. Yellow locks and tags are never to be used alone for personal protection when working on equipment. All persons installing a caution lock shall also install an accompanying caution tag that includes their name, date(s), and how the authorized person can be contacted.