How to Prevent Electrical Accidents with Hand Tools

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Portable power tools are one of the most frequent causes of death by electrocution on farms. Farm workers typically expose themselves to more electrical hazards than do workers in other industries. They frequently work alone, often operating electrical equipment in damp and dusty places with no one nearby to help in case of an accident. Farm work thus requires extra caution in using power tools.

  1. Never use any electrical hand tool that does not carry the Underwriters Laboratories Seal of Approval.
    • This seal indicates the tool has undergone extensive testing and has been found to be safe when properly maintained.
  2. Older tools with a two-wire design should be immediately upgraded to a three-wire system by qualified personnel.
    • If your tool cannot be upgraded, discard it.
    • Most power tools in use today have a three-wire system. This third wire serves as an emergency ground in the event of an internal short or ground fault.
  3. Make sure the three-wire system is maintained through all adapters and extension cords.
    • Adapters not properly connected to receptacle boxes make the ground fault wire ineffective.
  4. Never disconnect or carry power tools by their cords.
    • This causes the cords insulation to rapidly deteriorate.
    • Inspect tool and extension cords routinely for fraying and other signs of deterioration. Repair or replace immediately.
  5. Consider using a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI).
    • GFIs do not replace traditional protection provided by current isolation, insulation and grounding, but they are a backup if insulation or grounding fails due to age, abuse or mechanical breakdown.
    • The GFI detects low levels of leaking current and cuts off power quickly at leakages greater than 5 mA.

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