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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course OSHA Electrical Safety. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Extension Cords

Electrical extension cords should NOT be used except in emergency situations; they are only for temporary, short-term use. If an extension cord must be used in the laboratory, these guidelines must be followed to prevent electrical fire or other electrical hazard:
  • The extension cord must be visible, and not subject to damage; it should NOT be fastened with staples or hung in any way that could damage the outer covering or insulation.
  • The cord should be less than 12 feet long.
  • Ensure that the wire size of an extension cord is adequate for the current to be carried; failure to do so can lead to electrical fires. The cord should consist of at least 16 American Wire Gauge (AWG) wire.
  • Cords used for 110-120 volt service should be UL listed (or other reputable testing lab) with a polarized three prong plug, as shown in the top image.
  • The extension cord must have only one outlet at the end. Do NOT "daisy chain" multiple extension cords or plug in power strips end-to-end, as shown in the lower image.
  • The wiring should be tested for physical integrity, polarity, and continuity of grounding at the time that it is used.
Long-term use of extension cords is a violation of OSHA regulations.