Hellman & Associates

Electrical Safety

Breaker Panels

  • Breaker panels should be readily and easily accessible at all times. Do not store any items directly in front of the panel. Maintain at least three-feet of clearance in front of the panel.
  • The panel should have a closed cover. The cover should not be locked unless work is in progress requiring that the cover be locked as part of the lock-out procedure.
  • The panel should have a directory index identifying each individual circuit breaker.
  • There should not be any missing breakers or other openings in the breaker face plate that would allow you to contact the “hot” electrical bus at the back of the panel.
  • Breakers should never be taped or otherwise secured in the “closed” (on) position. Each circuit breaker and circuit is rated for a maximum amount of amperes.
  • Breakers should not be taped in the “open”(off) position as a means of de-energizing the circuit during repair or maintenance activity. Open breakers should be properly tagged or locked out.
  • Use the left-hand rule (throwing disconnects/opening panels) so that your body isn’t positioned directly in front of the panel. If a possible arc flash occurred, it wouldn’t be right in front of you.


  • There are “clues” that electrical hazards exist. For example, if a GFCI keeps tripping while you are using a power tool, there is a problem. Don’t keep resetting the GFCI and continue to work. A qualified electrical worker must evaluate the “clue” and decide what action should be taken to control the hazard.
  • Tripped circuit breakers and blown fuses indicate too much current is flowing in a circuit. This could be due to several factors, such as malfunctioning equipment or a short between conductors. The cause must be determined in order to control the hazard.
  • An electrical tool, appliance, wire, or connection that feels warm may indicate too much current in the circuit or equipment. You need to evaluate the situation and determine your risk.
  • A burning odor may indicate overheated insulation.
  • All electrical equipment used near water (or outside) should be plugged into a GFCI.

Extension Cords

  • Inspect your cords regularly for deterioration or damage. Damaged cords present a potential fire or shock hazard and should be destroyed and replaced immediately.
  • Do not string cords through doorways, windows, walls, ceilings, or floors.
  • Power cords are for temporary (less than 90 days) purposes only.
  • Don’t use a 3-prong cord with the ground pin missing.
  • Don’t interconnect or “daisy chain” power strips or series of extension cords.