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Common Hazards With Electrical Cords in the Workplace

Fire Damage
Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Electricity is a staple of the modern workplace. We need it to run our computers, copiers, phones, and office appliances. Unfortunately, this often results in a tangle of electrical cords and power bars that create hazards like tripping, electric shock, and even fires.

Keeping all electrical cords properly maintained and correctly placed is a key component of office safety, especially office fire safety. The fire and damage restoration experts at ServiceMaster Restore® have some tips to help you limit the hazards caused by electrical cords.

Tripping Hazards

Tripping hazards are among the most common types of hazards created by electrical cords at work. Employees, clients, and customers alike can trip over cords, which may not only cause serious bodily harm, but also may ultimately damage your company's image. Even if staff and customers aren't injured, their falls could damage important office equipment, such as causing a computer, large screen or another costly item to fall over and break.

To help keep cords from creating a tripping hazard in your workplace, follow these tips:

  • Rearrange the workspace to keep electrical cords out of the path of traffic.
  • Tape down and clearly mark off any cords that temporarily need to extend across doorways, hallways, or aisles.

Electric Shock Hazards

Power cords carry strong and dangerous electrical currents. Both improper placement and inadequate care of electrical cords can create an electric shock, potentially injuring anyone who handles them.

Help lower the risk of electric shock by sticking to these three guidelines:

  • Replace an electrical cord as soon as it begins showing signs of wear and fraying, or becomes damaged in any way.
  • Keep all cords away from any source of water, including open windows and potted plants.
  • Only use cords that are certified by Underwriter Laboratory. These cords will be clearly marked with a "UL" to symbolize that they've been tested and meet U.S. safety standards.

Fire Hazards

Electrical cords that are frayed or improperly placed can also put your workplace at risk of a fire, posing a danger to everyone in the building. Smoke and heat can also damage your equipment and release harmful chemicals from any plastic or metal components.

Keep your cords from starting a fire by taking the following precautions:

  • Do not overload an extension cord or power strip by connecting it to another extension cord or power strip.
  • Do not overload an extension cord by plugging too many appliances into it at once, especially if the cord is already connected to a powerful appliance.
  • Reduce the amount of extension cords needed by rearranging the workspace and providing easier access to outlets.
  • Do not run electrical cords under a rug, as they can become damaged or heat from the cord can get trapped and create a fire.
  • Create a comprehensive office fire safety checklist for your workplace and ensure that all employees know what to do in case of a fire.

With these tips, you can help prevent several different workplace hazards related to electrical cords from occurring. If you need help determining the top hazards at your facility, call on the experts at ServiceMaster Restore. Our commercial fire restoration experts can walk through your building with you to note all risks and safety hazards. That way, your employees and customers can stay safe from any electrical cord incidents.