Electrical Safety: Lab Incident at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A recent electrical incident in a research laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign resulted in second degree burns on one hand and a reminder to revisit electrical safety. The former Director of Research Safety at this university, Peter Ashbrook, published the following pieces of advice in a recent article in the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jchas.2015.06.002):

  • Make sure cords are in good condition and do not overload outlets.
  • Do not use 3-to-2 prong adapters and do not leave electrical circuits exposed.
  • Power strips should have circuit breakers or fuses.
  • Extension cords are only for temporary use (less than a day).
  • Do not daisy chain extension cords or power strips.
  • Outlets must be GFCI protected if within six feet of a water source.
  • If you have custom-built electrical equipment or have modified the electrical parts of any of your laboratory equipment, there should be a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) about the hazards and how to control them.
  • All “small” electrical incidents and near misses should be carefully reviewed to make sure that all appropriate steps are being taken to minimized hazards.

For more information, please revisit the electrical safety article in the July 2015 edition of The Lab Rat Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1kFDzy7

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