The most common electrical hazard on today's construction sites is from ground fault electrical shock. In order to reduce shock-related injuries, the OSHA electrical standard requires employers to provide either ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for receptacle outlets or an assured equipment grounding conductor program. Here are some guidelines to prevent electrical injuries.

  • Always use appropriate personal protective equipment, including but not limited to rubber insulating gloves, hoods, sleeves, matting, and blankets.
  • Only use hand tools, electrical tools, and extension cords that are in good repair.
  • De-energize electric power circuits before working near, inspecting, or making repairs.
  • Provide grounding. Service or system ground where the neutral conductor is grounded. Equipment grounding provides a path for current from a tool or machine to the ground. Any live parts of electrical equipment operating 50 volts or more must be guarded to avoid accidental contact.
  • When employees using jackhammers or hand tools do not know the exact location of underground electrical lines, they must wear insulated gloves.
  • De-energize and ground overhead lines before beginning work. Unqualified employees and mechanical equipment must stay at least 10 feet away from these lines.
  • These guidelines are an excerpt from the Tailgate/Toolbox Safety Meetings created by Safety Services in Corona, Calif., a company that provides customized safety training and support for small construction firms. Contact them at 866.204.4786 or