Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Safe Work Practices

Personal Protective Equipment

Appropriate personal protective equipment must be selected and worn based upon the hazard/risk category for the task to be performed. Electrical protective equipment must be in good condition, worn properly, of the proper type and class for the voltage to be worked with, and currently tested, if required. For general information on equipment selection and program requirements, view Virginia Tech's Personal Protective Equipment Program.

Extension Cords and GFCIs

Personnel who use temporary wiring, including job-made cords, extension cords, and/or ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCI) must use them in a safe, effective manner.

Overhead Power Lines

Work on or near overhead lines requires precautions to be taken to prevent employees from contacting lines that are not insulated, guarded or isolated.  Where contact is possible, the lines shall be de-energized and visibly grounded at the point of work or suitably guarded by the power distribution company.  Workers carrying long objects must have a worker assigned to each end of the object to maintain control of each end. Also see additional requirements.


Proper lighting must be provided for spaces containing exposed energized parts before workers may enter.  Insufficient or lack of illumination, or any obstruction that blocks his/her view of the work to be performed is not permitted.  Do not reach blindly into areas that may contain energized parts.

cable prepConfined Space Entry

Confined Space Entry must be in compliance with VT’s Confined Space Entry Program.  In addition, employees working in manholes, vaults, or similar confined or enclosed spaces that contain exposed energized parts must be provided with, and must use, protective shields, barriers, or insulating materials as necessary to prevent inadvertent contact with the energized parts.  Doors and hinged panels that could swing into an employee and cause him/her to contact exposed energized parts must be secured before work begins.

Conductive Materials/Equipment

Conductive materials and equipment that are in contact with any part of an employee’s body must be handled in a manner that will prevent them from contacting exposed energized conductors or circuit parts.

  • If an employee must handle long conductive objects, such as metal ducts, pipes, or rods in areas with exposed live parts, then insulation, guarding, and/or approved materials handling techniques must be used to minimize the hazard.
  • Employees may not wear conductive articles of jewelry or clothing, such as watchbands, bracelets, rings, key chains, necklaces, metal eye glass frames, metallic aprons, cloth with conductive thread, or metal headgear, if they might contact exposed energized parts unless they have been rendered nonconductive.


Housekeeping duties may not be performed close to live parts unless adequate safeguards, such as insulating materials or barriers are used.  Electrically conductive cleaning materials, including steel wool, metallic cloth and silicon carbide, as well as conductive liquid solutions may not be used near energized parts unless procedures are followed to prevent contact.


Interlocks shall not be bypassed unless temporarily necessary as determined by the qualified person working on the equipment.  The work must comply with the specified procedures for working on or near exposed energized parts.  The interlock system must be returned to its operable condition when the work is completed.

Warning Devices

danger signSigns/symbols and accident prevention tags must be used whenever necessary to warn employees about electrical hazards that might endanger them.  Signs and tags must meet ANSI Z535 requirements.

Barricades shall be used in conjunction with safety signs where it is necessary to prevent or limit employee access to work areas containing live parts.  Conductive barricades shall not be used where it might cause an electrical hazard, and barricades should be placed no closer than the Limited Approach Boundary.

Attendants are required where signs and barricades do not provide sufficient warning and protection from electrical hazards.  The attendant must keep unqualified employees outside a work area and must remain in the area as long as there is a potential for employees to be exposed to electrical hazards.