Basic Electrical Security

We depend on electricity, but we often underestimate its power to cause injury. Even the current in your home (120 Volts) can cause heart failure. UW employees must know the Electrical safety report and dangers of electrical currents pose, including sparks, fire, or explosions, and then reduce or eliminate those dangers.


Electric shock occurs when current flows across the human body. Electricity flows through closed circuits and even people, at times tragically, may become in the same circuit. When someone is struck by the shock of a collision, electrical current flows through body parts as well as through it until an electrical ground. This happens when one touches both wires of an electrical circuit that is energized, touches one of the circuit’s wires in a position that is not secured, or touches a metallic part that has been electrically charged.

Electrocution is the term used to describe an injury or the lethal dose of electricity. Electricity can also trigger muscles to contract or fall. The severity of the injury is contingent on the quantity of current that is flowing throughout the body. It also depends on the path of the current’s route through the body as well as the duration the body is in the circuit and also the frequency of the current.


The cause of electrical fires can be by the resistance that is too strong, which generates temperatures from the following sources:

  • A lot of currents is flowing through wiring when overcurrent protection fails or isn’t present
  • The electrical outlets are faulty, resulting in an arc or contact issue
  • Poor wiring connections and outdated wiring that is damaged aren’t able to hold the load.

An explosion could occur when electricity sparks a flammable gas or combustible dust mixture within the air. An ignition caused by an unbalanced or short circuit charge can occur.

What you should be aware of

Safety of electrical equipment

  • Do not work with conductors exposed to the sun with 50 volts or more.
  • Make sure that your electrical equipment is correctly connected, grounded, and in good condition.
  • Extension cords should not be used to wire permanently to be terminated at the end of their temporary use during an activity or an event.
  • Surge suppressors equipped with circuit breakers can be used for a long time and come in three sizes: six, and 15-foot cords.
  • Equipment with high amperages, such as space heaters portable air conditioners, space heaters, and more are required to be connected directly to the wall outlet permanently.
  • Do not use, access, or alter any electrical services such as circuit breakers without being specifically licensed and qualified to do this.
  • In humid environments, we could increase the chance of an electric shock.

Maintenance and housekeeping

  • Keep at least 30 inches of space in the area in front of electrical panels to provide an environment that is safe for employees.
  • Make sure each junction box is secured.

What can you do to be sure to remain safe?

Avoid any activities which require training

  • Conductors exposed to exposure must be carrying 50 Volts or more
  • Repairs or modifications to electrical equipment
  • Cleaning the case or removing barriers, of any equipment that makes use of electricity
  • Utilizing any device or instrument to test for the electrical activity
  • Resetting a circuit breaker that is tripped or replacing a damaged fuse

Find a competent person to do the tasks.


To protect yourself from electrical hazards Always ensure that the equipment is grounded. Grounding with electrical energy provides a different route for electricity to travel instead of passing through an individual. Equipment equipped with a grounding prong needs to be connected to an extension cord that has a ground. The grounding plug must not remove from the apparatus.

Wet locations

If you are you are using electricity in a moist or damp area, such as outdoor areas it is recommended that a Ground Fault Interrupter (GFCI) is required. The GFCI assures that any electrical shocks are quick. Though it is painful, it will not be fatal since the GFCI causes an electrical fault, or leak into the current.


If your maintenance and servicing tasks require electricity and electrical equipment, you should be able to prevent unexpected start-ups of the equipment. 

Services available

EH&S offers this service:

  • Information on basic electrical safety
  • Information on safe working methods for electrically energized circuits and their components, or high-voltage electric distribution and transmission systems
  • The investigation of injuries and accidents to aid in educating and preventing repeat injuries