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Lab Health and Safety

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)

Where fuses and circuit breakers are designed to protect wiring and equipment from overcurrent, GFCIs are designed to protect personnel from electric current. Not having a GFCI near a water source can lead to injury or even death.

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Where fuses and circuit breakers are designed to protect wiring and equipment from overcurrent, GFCIs are designed to protect personnel from electric current. Not having a GFCI near a water source can lead to injury or even death.

Below are 7 Tips to keep in mind when it comes to GFCI safety:

1. Outlets within 6 feet of a water source must be GFCI protected.

2. GFCIs should also be used in places where employees will be using electrical equipment around water or in damp environments.

3. GFCI protected circuits are not required for receptacles dedicated to refrigerators or other heavy equipment, except when an outlet is within 6 feet of a sink or other water source.

4. Some electronic instruments are not designed to be connected to GFCI-protected circuits because they draw enough current to trip the GFCI.

5. GFCIs should be exercised on a scheduled basis because they may corrode and lose their ability to trip over time. This can easily be accomplished by flipping the breaker several times every month or two.

6. People can still be shocked with a GFCI in place. This is because a GFCI does not protect against line-to-line contact hazards. This often happens when someone inserts a plug into an outlet while holding the metal prongs in their fingers.

7. If you are unsure if outlets are GFCI protected, you can purchase GFCI test devices at a hardware store. They are easy to operate and a whole lab can be tested quickly.