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OSHA General Industry Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Protection Requirements

By W. Jon Wallace, CSP, MBA

On August 14, 2007 the final rule became effective on OSHA’s revised Electrical Standard for General Industry – Subpart S. One significant revision addresses ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection for personnel. A GFCI continually monitors current flow to and from electric equipment. If the current going out to the protected equipment differs by approximately 0.005 amperes (5-milliamperes) from the current returning, the GFCI will deenergize the equipment within as little as 25 milliseconds, quickly enough to prevent electrocution.

OSHA has required GFCI protection or an assured equipment grounding conductor program in the construction industry for over 28 years. Since this requirement has been in effect, OSHA estimates that between 650 and 1,100 lives have been saved due to GFCI protection.

To enhance employee protection for workers covered by OSHA’s 1910 General Industry standards, OSHA has made GFCI protection mandatory for the following:

  • Bathroom/rooftop receptacles installed after the effective date of the final rule (August 14, 2007);
  • Temporary wiring installations being used by personnel during maintenance, remodeling, or repair of buildings, structures or equipment or during similar construction-like activities:
    1. 125-volt, single-phase, 15-, 20-, and 30-ampere receptacle outlets;

    2. Receptacles other than 125 volt, single-phase, 15-, 20-, and 30-ampere receptacles

As a best practice, GFCI protection is essential whenever employees use portable corded equipment such as drills, right-angle grinders, and wet vacs in proximity of water and/or moisture. OSHA’s specific GFCI requirements are listed below.

OSHA Specific GFCI Requirements

1910.304(b)(3)

Ground-fault circuit interrupter protection for personnel.

1910.304(b)(3)(i)

All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in bathrooms or on rooftops shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)

The following requirements apply to temporary wiring installations that are used during maintenance, remodeling, or repair of buildings, structures, or equipment or during similar construction-like activities.

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(A)

All 125-volt, single-phase, 15-, 20-, and 30-ampere receptacle outlets that are not part of the permanent wiring of the building or structure and that are in use by personnel shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

Note 1 to paragraph (b)(3)(ii)(A) of this section: A cord connector on an extension cord set is considered to be a receptacle outlet if the cord set is used for temporary electric power.

Note 2 to paragraph (b)(3)(ii)(A) of this section: Cord sets and devices incorporating the required ground-fault circuit-interrupter that are connected to the receptacle closest to the source of power are acceptable forms of protection.

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(B)

Receptacles other than 125 volt, single-phase, 15-, 20-, and 30-ampere receptacles that are not part of the permanent wiring of the building or structure and that are in use by personnel shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)

Where the ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection required by paragraph (b)(3)(ii)(B) of this section is not available for receptacles other than 125-volt, single-phase, 15-, 20-, and 30-ampere, the employer shall establish and implement an assured equipment grounding conductor program covering cord sets, receptacles that are not a part of the building or structure, and equipment connected by cord and plug that are available for use or used by employees on those receptacles. This program shall comply with the following requirements:

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(1)

A written description of the program, including the specific procedures adopted by the employer, shall be available at the jobsite for inspection and copying by the Assistant Secretary of Labor and any affected employee;

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(2)

The employer shall designate one or more competent persons to implement the program;

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(3)

Each cord set, attachment cap, plug, and receptacle of cord sets, and any equipment connected by cord and plug, except cord sets and receptacles which are fixed and not exposed to damage, shall be visually inspected before each day's use for external defects, such as deformed or missing pins or insulation damage, and for indications of possible internal damage. Equipment found damaged or defective shall not be used until repaired;

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(4)

The following tests shall be performed on all cord sets and receptacles which are not a part of the permanent wiring of the building or structure, and cord- and plug-connected equipment required to be grounded:

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(4)(i)

All equipment grounding conductors shall be tested for continuity and shall be electrically continuous;

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(4)(ii)

Each receptacle and attachment cap or plug shall be tested for correct attachment of the equipment grounding conductor. The equipment grounding conductor shall be connected to its proper terminal; and

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(4)(iii)

All required tests shall be performed before first use; before equipment is returned to service following any repairs; before equipment is used after any incident which can be reasonably suspected to have caused damage (for example, when a cord set is run over); and at intervals not to exceed 3 months, except that cord sets and receptacles which are fixed and not exposed to damage shall be tested at intervals not exceeding 6 months;

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(5)

The employer shall not make available or permit the use by employees of any equipment which has not met the requirements of paragraph (b)(3)(ii)(C) of this section; and

1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(6)

Tests performed as required in paragraph (b)(3)(ii)(C) of this section shall be recorded. This test record shall identify each receptacle, cord set, and cord- and plug-connected equipment that passed the test and shall indicate the last date it was tested or the interval for which it was tested. This record shall be kept by means of logs, color coding, or other effective means and shall be maintained until replaced by a more current record. The record shall be made available on the jobsite for inspection by the Assistant Secretary and any affected employee.



For questions concerning this article or any other electrical safety concerns, please contact W. Jon Wallace, CSP, MBA at 919-933-5548, or .


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