Extension cords in General Industry

By: Travis Rhoden

Publication: Workplace Safety Regulatory Alert

Date Posted: 03/03/2021

Extension cords are a common sight in most workplaces. Sometimes the use conforms to the OSHA requirements, sometimes it violates the requirements.

Acceptable uses of Extension Cords in Workplace

There are only 12 acceptable uses for extension cords, as spelled out in 1910.305(g)(1):

  1. Pendants;
  2. Wiring of fixtures;
  3. Connection of portable lamps or appliances;
  4. Portable and mobile signs;
  5. Elevator cables;
  6. Wiring of cranes and hoists;
  7. Connection of stationary equipment to facilitate their frequent interchange;
  8. Prevention of the transmission of noise or vibration;
  9. Appliances where the fastening means and mechanical connections are designed to permit removal for maintenance and repair;
  10. Data processing cables approved as a part of the data processing system;
  11. Connection of moving parts; and
  12. Temporary wiring as permitted in 1910.305(a)(2), which includes remodeling, maintenance, or repair; for Christmas decorative lighting, and similar purposes; or for experimental or development work, and during emergencies and construction-type work when 600 volts, nominal, or less. (Temporary electrical installations of more than 600 volts may be used only during periods of tests, experiments, emergencies, or construction-like activities.)

Prohibited usesof Extension Cords in Workplace

Flexible cords and cables may not be used:

  • As a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure;
  • Where run through holes in walls, ceilings, or floors;
  • Where run through doorways, windows, or similar openings;
  • Where attached to building surfaces;
  • Where concealed behind building walls, ceilings, or floors; or
  • Where installed in raceways, except as otherwise permitted in this subpart.

About the author
Travis Rhoden - EH&S Editor

Travis is a senior editor with J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. He specializes in safety management systems, job hazard analysis, machine guarding, storage rack safety, forklift training and OSHA inspections. 

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