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Electrical Safety #1

* Grounding Electricity *

Many people think that “household” voltage, 110-120, which is common in almost every workplace, is not particularly dangerous. Well, it is!

It's not voltage alone that determines the danger; it's a combination of voltage, amperage and resistance to the flow of the current and duration of contact.

Electricity must have an uninterrupted path, or circuit, to follow. If your body becomes part of that circuit, electricity will pass through it.

Even with “household” voltage, if your body's resistance to the flow is lowered by wet hands or feet, for example, enough electrical energy can flow through your body to kill you. This is especially true if the electricity passes through vital organs, such as the heart or lungs.

Electricity always follows the path of the least resistance. That's why it is so important to provide an easy path for the current to follow. This is called a ground.

For example, let's say you are holding a drill that has developed a short. Your hands are dry and you are standing on a dry surface. The drill has a ground wire. This means the current will follow the ground wire - not you! Dry hands and feet offer considerable resistance to household current, but the resistance drops rapidly in the presence of moisture.

Portable electric power hand tools are used for many different kinds of work. Unless you are using an acceptable double-insulated electric power tool, you must be absolutely' sure that the noncurrent-carrying parts are properly grounded.

Usually a three-prong plug in a three-hole outlet provides a proper ground. However, if you are not sure that the ground is effective, have it tested.

Attaching the third wire to a pipe that does not go to the ground, or to a nonconductor, is not an effective means of grounding; you might as well not have it at all. Don't take a chance - always have it checked out.

For your safety:

* Get Well Grounded in Safety *

We welcome comments about this article, and your requests for future topics.

    If you have a specific topic you would like to see covered here or that you may need for your company, please send an Email to our Tail Gate Safety Topics editor, Dave Miller at or to Thanks!


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Copyright 2001 by David E. Miller

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