Safety and Health
Fact Sheet No. 5 August 2006
© 2006 American Welding Society

Electrical Hazards
AWS disclaims liability for any injury to persons or to property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect,
consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this Safety and Health Fact Sheet.
AWS also makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein.

Fact Sheet No. 5 — 8/06 Page 1

INTRODUCTION
Electric shock from welding and cutting equipment can result in death or severe
burns. Additionally, serious injury can occur if the welder falls as a result of the
shock. All of the following are electrically energized when the power is “on”: the
welding circuit (including the electrode and workpiece), input power and machine
internal circuits, the wire, reel of wire, drive rolls, and all other metal parts touching the energized electrode. Additionally, incorrectly installed or improperly grounded
equipment is a hazard.

HOW TO AVOID ELECTRIC SHOCKS
Use proper precautionary measures and recommended safe practices at all times. Train all personnel using welding and cutting equipment to reduce the risk of injuries, fatalities, and electrical accidents, by following these instructions:
• Read all instructions, labels, and
installation manuals before installing,
operating, or servicing the equipment.

• Train all personnel involved in welding
operations to observe safe electrical
work practices according to OSHA
1910.332.

• Do not touch live electrical parts.

• Have all installation, operation,
maintenance, and repair work
performed only by qualified people.

• Properly install and ground the
equipment in accordance with the
instruction manual and national, state,
and local codes.

• Frequently inspect input power cord for
damage or bare wiring – replace cord
immediately if damaged – bare wiring
can kill.

• Do not work alone where there are
electrically hazardous conditions.

• Wear dry, hole-free, insulating gloves in
good condition and protective clothing.
Do not touch the electrode with a bare
hand.

• Insulate yourself from the workpiece
and ground using dry insulating mats or
covers big enough to prevent any
physical contact with the work or
ground, or wear properly designed and
approved rubber-soled boots in good
condition.

• Use fully insulated electrode holders.
Never dip the holder into water to cool it
or lay it on conductive surfaces or the
work surface.

AWS disclaims liability for any injury to persons or to property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect,
consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this Safety and Health Fact Sheet.
AWS also makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein.
Fact Sheet No. 5 — 8/06

• Do not touch electrode holders
connected to two welding machines at
the same time since double open-circuit
voltage can be present.

• Do not allow the electrode holder or
electrode to come in contact with any
other person or any grounded object.

• Do not use worn, damaged,
undersized, or poorly spliced cables,
welding gun cables, or torch cables.
Make sure all connections are tight,
clean, and dry.

• Do not wrap cables carrying electric
current around any part of your body.

• When required by ANSI Z49.1 or other
codes, ground the workpiece to a good
electrical earth ground. The work lead
is not a ground lead. Do not use the
work lead as a ground lead. Use a
separate connection to ground the
workpiece to earth.

• Do not touch an energized electrode
while you are in contact with the work
circuit. When using auxiliary power from welding
generators, it is recommended that you
use a circuit protected by a ground fault
circuit interrupter (GFCI) such as
receptacles in boxes, extension cords, and
the like. Use of an assured grounding
system is also acceptable and is equivalent
to use of a GFCI protected circuit. (see
AWS Safety and Health Fact Sheet No. 29,
Grounding of Portable and Vehicle
Mounted Welding Generators, for
information about assured grounding
systems).
Additional safety precautions are required
when welding is performed under any of
the following electrically hazardous
conditions: in damp locations or while
wearing wet clothing; on metal floors,
gratings, scaffolds, or other metal
structures; in cramped positions such as
sitting, kneeling, or lying; or when there is a
high risk of unavoidable or accidental
contact with the workpiece or ground.
Where these conditions are present, use
one of the following types of equipment
presented in order of preference: (1) a
semiautomatic DC constant voltage metal
electrode (wire) welder, (2) a DC manual
covered electrode (stick) welder, or (3) an
AC welder with reduced open-circuit
voltage. In most situations, use of a DC,
constant voltage wire welder is
recommended. And, do not work alone!

• Wear a safety harness to prevent falling
if working above floor level.

• Turn off all equipment when not in use.
Disconnect the power to equipment that
will be left unattended or out of service.
Disconnect the input power or stop the
engine before installing or servicing the
equipment. Lock the input disconnect
switch in the “open” (Off) position, or
remove the fuses, so that power cannot be
turned on accidentally. Follow
lockout/tagout procedures (see AWS
Safety and Health Fact Sheet No. 18,
Lockout/Tagout).

• Use only well maintained equipment.
Frequently inspect welding equipment
and repair or replace all damaged parts
before further use.
AWS disclaims liability for any injury to persons or to property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect,
consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this Safety and Health Fact Sheet.
AWS also makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein.
Fact Sheet No. 5 — 8/06 Page 3

• Keep all covers and panels securely in
place.
WEARERS OF PACEMAKERS
The technology of heart pacemakers and
other electronic devices changes
frequently and this may change the way
these devices are affected by other
electrical devices including welding
equipment. Wearers of pacemakers or
other electronic devices vital to life should
be instructed to check with their doctor and
with the device manufacturer to determine
if any hazard exits when near welding or
cutting operations. See AWS Fact Sheet
No. 16, Pacemakers and Welding, for
additional information about pacemakers
and welding.

PROCEDURES FOR ELECTRIC SHOCK
• Turn off the electric power.

• Use nonconducting material, such as
dry wood, to free the victim from
contact with live parts or wires.

• If the victim is not breathing, call for
emergency services. Administer
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
immediately after breaking contact with
the electrical source. Continue CPR
until breathing starts or until help
arrives.

• Where an automatic electronic
defibrillator (AED) is available, use
according to instructions.

• Treat an electrical burn as a thermal
burn by applying clean, cold (iced)
compresses. Prevent contamination,
and cover with a clean, dry dressing.

INFORMATION SOUCES
American National Standards Institute
(ANSI). Safety in Welding, Cutting, and
Allied Processes (ANSI Z49.1), published
by the American Welding Society, 550 NW
LeJeune Road, Miami, FL 33126;
telephone 800-443-9353; Web site:
www.aws.org.
Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA). Code of Federal
Regulations, Title 29 Labor, Parts 1910.1
to 1910.1450, available from the U.S.
Government Printing Office, 732 North
Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401;
telephone: 800-321-6742; Web site:
www.osha.gov
National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA). National Electric Code (NFPA
70), available from National Fire Protection
Association, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy,
MA 02269-9101; telephone: 800-344-
3555; Web site: www.nfpa.org.
National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA). Standard for Fire Prevention
During Welding, Cutting and Other Hot
Work (NFPA 51B), available from National
Fire Protection Association, 1
Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269-
9101; telephone: 800-344-3555; Web site:
www.nfpa.org.
National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA). Standard for Electrical Safety
Requirements for Employee Workplaces
(NFPA 70E), available from National Fire
Protection Association, 1 Batterymarch
Park, Quincy, MA 02269-9101; telephone:
800-344-3555; Web site: www.nfpa.org.
Mine Safety and Health Administration
(MSHA). Code of Federal Regulations

AWS disclaims liability for any injury to persons or to property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect,
consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this Safety and Health Fact Sheet.
AWS also makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein.

Fact Sheet No. 5 — 8/06 Page 4
Title 30 Mineral Resources, Parts 1 to 199,
available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, 732 North Capitol Street
NW, Washington, DC 20401; telephone:
202-693-9400; web site: www.msha.gov.
American Welding Society (AWS). Safety
and Health Fact Sheets, published by the
American Welding Society, 550 NW
LeJeune Road, Miami, FL 33126;
telephone 800-443-9353; Web site:
www.aws.

Sponsored Links