Electrical Safety Standards Many Ignore

Electrical Safety Standards Many Ignore


Electricity is incredibly useful, but also potentially very dangerous if proper safety standards are not followed. As an electrician, I have seen time and time again how many common electrical safety guidelines are ignored, often leading to unnecessary risks and hazards. In this article, I will go over some of the key electrical safety standards that both homeowners and professionals unfortunately overlook far too often. My goal is to raise awareness on these important but neglected safety topics to help prevent electrical fires, shocks, electrocutions and other dangers.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

One of the most important and overlooked electrical safety standards is the use of ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs for short. GFCIs are special outlets and circuit breakers designed to immediately shut off power if a ground fault is detected, helping prevent serious shocks. However, many ignore key guidelines for proper GFCI use:

GFCIs Should Be Used for Any Wet or Damp Location

Regular Testing is Crucial

Both Outlets and Breakers Should Be GFCI-Protected

Outdoor and Garage Outlets Must Be GFCI-Protected

GFCIs Must Be Properly Installed

In summary, GFCI protection should be far more widespread than it currently is, and installed correctly. Frequent testing is also a must.

AFCI Breakers for Arc Fault Protection

Another important safety standard that often gets ignored are AFCI circuit breakers. AFCIs detect dangerous arc faults that can start electrical fires. But many breaker boxes lack adequate AFCI protection.

All Bedroom Circuits Require AFCI Protection

Other Living Areas Need AFCIs Too

AFCIs Are Now Required for Most New Construction

Test AFCIs Regularly

They Should Never Be Disabled

AFCI breakers aren't a luxury - they legitimately save lives and property by preventing electrical fires. All homes and buildings should be adequately protected.

Proper Use of Extension Cords and Power Strips

Extension cords and power strips also present serious hazards when misused. Here are some key guidelines everyone should, but often doesn't, follow:

Don't Overload Cords or Strips

Never Use Indoor-Rated Cords Outdoors

Don't String Multiple Cords Together

No Permanent Use as Wiring Substitutes

Use Grounded, Three-Prong Cords

Don't Run Under Carpets or Furniture

Check for Damage Frequently

Extension cords and strips are perfectly safe when used properly, but hazardous when misused. Follow these guidelines to the letter.

Proper Electrical Panel Safety

The main electrical panel is the heart of a building's electrical system, so neglecting safety here can be disastrous:

Keep 30" Clearance in Front

Label All Circuit Breakers Clearly

Shut Power Off Before Working

Use Licensed Electricians Only

Inspect for Damage Regularly

Ensure Proper Amp Capacity

Keep Dust and Debris Out

Neglecting basic safety procedures around electrical panels leads to shocked technicians, fried equipment, fires and more. Follow these guidelines to the letter.

Proper Use of Ladders and Scaffolds

Falls from ladders and scaffolds while doing electrical work are all too common. Safety is a must:

Use Non-Conductive Ladders

Ensure Ladders are Rated for Electrical Work

Only Use Ladders on Stable, Dry Surfaces

Maintain Three Points of Contact While Working

Wear a Fall Arrest System on Scaffolds

Follow Proper Ladder Angles

Inspect for Damage First

Ladders and scaffolds demand extreme care when doing electrical work. Follow these tips to avoid serious falls and injuries on the job.

Lockout/Tagout Procedures

Before working on electrical equipment, proper lockout/tagout procedures to disable all power sources are critical:

Identify and Lock Off All Power Sources

Apply Warning Tags

Double Check for Voltage

One Worker Holds the Key

Follow Step-by-Step Restoration

Train Everyone on Proper Procedures

Lockout/tagout seems tedious but prevents the disastrous consequences of working on live equipment. No shortcuts can be taken here.


These electrical safety standards exist for very good reason - to save lives and prevent avoidable tragedies. While it may be tempting to cut corners or ignore certain guidelines to speed things up, doing so is never worth the risk. Safety must always come first. I hope this overview will encourage both homeowners and fellow electrical professionals to re-examine the safety procedures they follow and make improvements wherever necessary. If we make electrical safety a top priority, we can continue benefiting from electricity's wonders while avoiding its potential harms.