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May 2004

Electrical Safety

You have heard about businesses burning down from fires sparked by electrical shorts and tragic injuries caused by electrocution. But did you ever think one of these could happen to your business? It’s possible.

Have you recently remodeled your building? Have you purchased and installed new equipment? Have you purchased a building not originally designed for an automotive recycling business? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you are at risk for potential electrical hazards that could cause a fire loss or serious injury. The primary hazards of electricity and its use are arc, spark, flash, and shorting out, which may result in electrocution, electrical burns, shock, explosions and fires.

You should have your facility’s electrical system (wiring, conduit, junction boxes, receptacles, circuit breakers, etc.) inspected by a professional electrical contractor regularly to ensure it is in good operational condition. Every time you purchase and install new equipment, your electrical contractor should evaluate the equipment’s electrical power demands and install it to your existing electrical system according to local and national electrical codes.

The following are additional general safe practices to follow:

General Safe Practices

•Wiring that is 25 years or older should be inspected by a licensed, qualified electrical contractor.
•Keep power cords away from the path of drills, lathes, grinders and saws.
•Do not carry plugged-in equipment or tools with your finger on the switch.
•Turn the tool or equipment OFF before plugging in or unplugging.
•Do not leave tools that are ON unattended.
•Do not handle or operate electrical tools or equipment when your hands are wet or when you are standing on wet floors.
•Do not operate spark-inducing tools or equipment, such as grinders or drills, near containers labeled “flammable” or in an explosive atmosphere, such as a spray paint booth.
•Turn off electrical tools/equipment and disconnect the power source from the outlet before attempting repairs or service work. Tag the tool/equipment “out of service.”
•Do not use extension cords or other grounded, three-pronged power tools that have the ground prong removed or broken off.
•Do not use an adapter that eliminates the grounding prong such as a cheater plug.
•Do not connect multiple electrical tools into a single outlet, and do not overload outlet boxes.
•Do not stand in water or on wet surfaces when operating power hand tools or portable electrical appliances.
•Do not use power hand tools while wearing wet cotton or leather gloves.
•Exposed wiring and cords that are frayed, cut, kinked or have deteriorated insulation should be repaired or taken out of service and replaced.
•Electrical enclosures such as switches, receptacles and junction boxes should be provided with tight-fitting covers (plates, doors). Covers should remain closed at all times when the enclosure is not in use.
•Before any repair work or inspection of a piece of electrical equipment is begun by a qualified person, the current should be turned off at the switch and the switch padlocked in the OFF position.
•Electrical outlets in wet areas (exterior outlets, etc.) must be equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to protect against electrical shock.
•Make sure circuit breakers are clearly labeled.
•Make sure the electrical room is clearly identified and free of combustible material and debris.
•The use of personal heaters or fans should not be allowed.
•Office coffee pots, etc., should have an automatic shut-off.
•All lighting fixtures should be securely and permanently attached.

Any electrical installation, service and repair should be performed by a qualified, licensed electrician in accordance with National Electrical Code standards.

For information about how Universal Underwriters Group’s Special Account Services Division can help meet the special needs of your automotive recycling business, call 1-800-840-8842, ext. 4845, visit our website at www.UniversalUnderwriters.com or e-mail to uuic.specaccts@zurichna.com.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. Please consult with qualified legal counsel to address your particular circumstances and needs. Universal Underwriters Group is not providing legal advice and assumes no liability concerning the information set forth above.

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