Insight from a Minnesota Safety Expert!


At the 1st Quarter Education Committee Meeting in April, Ben Wood (MN Workplace Safety Consultation) presented valuable information and insight that our committee wants to share with you. Ben is a member of the committee and generously volunteers his time to help us help you!

Submitted by Ben Wood
Safety Consultant Principal, MN Workplace Safety Consultation

REMEMBER: Electrical equipment and appliances must be installed and used as designed.

OSHA has recognized the electrical hazards related to electrical equipment and appliances, particularly when they are not installed or used as designed or intended. Reflective of NFPA 70, OSHA has codified “installation and use” into its Electrical Standards (29 CFR 1910.303(b)(2) for General Industry; 29 CFR 1926.403(b) for Construction) … which requires employers to ensure that where electrical equipment and appliances are used, they must be used in accordance with testing and design specifications and limitations. Thus, in the workplace, employers are permitted to use only electrical equipment and appliances “approved” the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories, and must ensure the equipment/appliances are both installed and used in accordance with the corresponding design, specifications, and limitations.

In Minnesota, the following are common examples that have been identified by MN OSHA Enforcement, and Minnesota’s Workplace Safety Consultation Unit, to be aware of, and which can lead to potential OSHA citations – and even injuries.  

• 3-Way Electrical Splitters (e.g., Level One; not designed for outdoors/commercial/construction);
• Relocatable Power Taps (Power-Strips) (e.g., not designed for outdoors/commercial/construction; not to be daisy-chained; must be plugged into receptacle and directly into appliance);
• Non-commercially rated fans/heaters (e.g., household box-fan; not rated for outdoors/commercial/construction; not grounded);
• Portable Power Distribution Devices (turtles, spiders) (e.g. not rated to be side-mounted);
• Flexible Electrical Cords (e.g., not rated to be daisy-chained);
• Flexible Cords/Wiring (e.g., overloading with rating of the conductors vs. draw imposed by equipment);
• Sheathed Non-Metallic Cable (Romex) (e.g. not securely affixed; used as extension cords);
• Metal boxes/fittings (e.g., required to be securely mounted/affixed; required to be grounded; used in lieu of extension cord);
• Metal fitting cover (e.g., used to cover unused openings in a circuit-breaker panel);
• Pendant boxes (e.g., grounded; strain);
• Microwaves (e.g., used outdoors or in wet/damp locations);
• Light-Bulbs (e.g., indoor bulbs used outdoors or wet/damp environment);
• Light-Fixtures (e.g., used to hang/suspend materials/equipment);
• Plug-ends of cords (e.g., secured together by inserting screws through molds)