Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s) now required by OSHA

By: Dan Mulcahy

Ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCI’s, are life-saving devices that protect people from electrocution. Now this basic safety component for working with electricity in wet environments is required by OSHA and NFPA (NFPA 70E 2012 Edition Section 110.4(C)) anywhere a permanently installed GFCI receptacle in a premise wiring system isn’t present. OSHA GFCI regulations have been implemented to impose safety measures to prevent electrocution accidents. A GFCI stops the current flow to an electrical device within a few milliseconds of when current begins to flow where it should not, such as through a human body. This type of accident is common where electrical tools or equipment are used around water or environments where there is an abundance of moisture.

GFCI’s are designed to interrupt the leak of an electrical current, which can often be smaller than the current needed to operate commonly used electrical tools and devices. The GFCI device stops a harmful level of electricity from flowing through the body of a person who comes in contact with the energized part of an electrical circuit.

GFCI’s work by measuring the steady current used to operate a particular tool or device. If an imbalance of 4-6 milliamps occurs between the line and neutral conductors, the circuit instantly activates, opens the circuit and the tool or device is de-energized.

The application of GFCI receptacles in residential homes has been an NFPA requirement since the early 1970’s. GFCI receptacles are commonly used in kitchens, bathrooms, and patios. However, since not all premises provide Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacles we highly recommend the use of PowerTech® 12 AWG extension cords with built-in GFCI protection. Faulty electrical tools, devices, and extension cords injure or kill numerous workers annually. Follow OSHA GFCI regulations and don’t become a statistic! Our PowerTech® Extension Cords with GFCI units come in 25, 50 and 100 foot lengths and are available at Milspec Direct. We also recommend GFCI Adapters, which instantly convert standard extension cords and/or outlets into a GFCI-protected ones.

The risk of an electrical worker being injured or killed by electrocution or an electrical arc blast sometime in his or her career is extremely high. So minimize the risk and follow OSHA GFCI regulations by using a PowerTech® GFCI Extension Cord for every job.