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Toolbox Talk: Grounding Tools at the Jobsite

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Orlando was originally incorporated as a town in 1875. That means there are a lot of older homes in the area to remodel. One particular problem in vintage houses is old wiring. Some older homes still have two-slot receptacles. This can tempt workers into jury-rigging a solution to get on with the job, such as using a pair of pliers to snap off the ground prong on tools that aren’t double insulated. Using this ill-advised shortcut could lead to electrocution.

It’s best to have a productive talk with workers before a situation such as this arises. In this article, an Orlando construction law attorney gives you some electrical grounding reminders for your workers.

Standards for Power Tools

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) construction industry standards 1926.302 states, “Electric power operated tools shall either be of the approved double-insulated type or grounded in accordance with Subpart K of this part.” It may seem confusing, but here are some of the specifics.

Tool Wiring Types

Wiring in an electrical tool is done in one of two ways: double insulation or use of equipment grounding.

Double insulation uses an additional barrier to keep potential “hot” wires from touching exposed conductive surfaces to keep users protected. If a tool is double insulated, it will say the words “Double Insulated” or have a marking on the handle that resembles a box within a box.

Equipment grounding uses a third wire connected to the round pin in the plug of the tool. The third wire runs from the metal frame of the tool to the plug that corresponds to a three-prong outlet. However, this safety measure only works when the three-conductor plug is inserted into a grounded outlet.

Better Options for Grounding

If your workers are using tools made with equipment grounding but the receptacles at the jobsite only have two slots, there are two main options.

To stay safe, the best option is to have grounded outlets installed by a licensed electrician. Barring that option, it’s possible to get a three-prong adaptor. Three-prong adaptors are only a good idea if the person installing them knows what they are doing. These devices plug into the two-prong receptacle and come with a small metal tab or wire that needs to be attached to a grounded screw in the grounded receptacle.

If there is no proper ground or the worker doesn’t have a good understanding of how to use it, it’s best to go with another option. It’s possible to use a grounded outlet with a generator placed outside. If your workers can’t get access to any grounded outlets, cordless tools are a good solution.

Any of these options are better than breaking off a ground prong from the plug of a corded tool.

If you would like to speak with a representative from our Orlando construction law firm, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.