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Electrocution or electric shock remains as one of the leading causes off death and injury both in the workplace and at home. While an electric shock doesn’t always result in a fatality, it could still result in serious injuries such as burns, muscle damage, or damage to the heart. Additionally, if electric shock happens while someone is working on a ladder for example, a resultant fall could cause serious injuries.

A large percentage of these accidents are caused by the use of defective equipment and/or failing to follow safe practices. Some of the equipment defects or unsafe practices that could result in electrical shocks are:

• Electrical cords and extension cords with worn or missing insulation
• Using improper extension cords
• Loose connections
• Using electrical cords or tools near water or while standing on wet surfaces
• Using defective electrical power tools
• Using electrical power tools in the vicinity of flammable vapors, gases, or dusts
• Not providing or disabling a proper grounding conductor

Remember, electricity is always looking for an easy path to ground through a suitable conductor. Some materials like metal and water for example are better conductors of electricity than others. The human body unfortunately is also an excellent conductor of electricity. If the easiest path to ground is through the human body, that’s the way it will go. A serious injury or fatal electrocution could result.

Some hints to keep you safe while using power tools are:

• Examine the tool and cord(s) before using the tool, and don’t use the tool or cord(s) if there are defects.
• Never splice cords, or tape over bare spots; replace the cord.
• Use extension cords only when necessary, and only if they are rated high enough for the job. Use only waterproof cords outdoors.
• Use double insulated tools whenever possible. (Note: the outside case is usually plastic, and shields the user from the current carrying parts of the tool.)
• If using a non-double insulated tool, insure that there is an intact grounding system (usually a 3-prong plug), and/or use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).
• Don’t use power tools when standing on wet ground, or near water. Don’t touch anything electrical with wet hands.
• Never try to repair a power tool if you are not qualified.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all electrical equipment.

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