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Unformatted text preview: ground. When plumbing is used as a grounding conductor, it must also be connected to a grounding device such as a conductive rod. (Rods used for grounding must be driven at least 8 feet into the earth.) Sometimes an electrical system will receive a higher voltage than it is designed to handle. These high voltages may come from a lightning strike, line surge, or contact with a highervoltage line. Sometimes a defect occurs in a device that allows exposed metal parts to become energized. Grounding will help protect the person working on a system, the system itself, and others using tools or operating equipment connected to the system. The extra current produced by the excess voltage travels relatively safely to the earth. Grounding creates a path for currents produced by unintended voltages on exposed parts. These currents follow the grounding path, rather than passing through the body of someone who touches the energized equipment. However, if a grounding rod takes a direct hit from a lightning strike and is buried in sandy soil, the rod should be examined to make sure it will still function properly. The heat from a lightning strike can cause the sand to turn into glass, which is an insulator. A grounding rod must be in contact with damp soil to be effective. Leakage current occurs when an electrical current escapes from its intended path. Leakages are sometimes low-current faults that can occur in all electrical equipment because of dirt, wear, damage, or moisture. A good grounding system should be able to carry off this leakage current. A ground fault occurs when current passes through the housing of an electrical device to ground. Proper grounding protects against ground faults. Ground faults are usually caused by misuse of a tool or damage to its insulation. This damage allows a bare conductor to touch metal parts or the tool housing. When you ground a tool or electrical system, you create a low-resistance path to the earth (known as a ground connection). When done properly, this path has sufficient current-carrying capacity to eliminate voltages that may cause a dangerous shock. Grounding does not guarantee you will not receive a shock, be injured, or killed from defective equipment. However, it greatly reduces the possibility. Grounding rod in the earth. Grounding-type receptacle. Section 7 Page 49 S AF ET Y M O D EL S TAG E 3--C O N T rOLLING HAZArDS: SAFE WOrK ENVIrON M EN T Equipment needs to be grounded under any of these circumstances: The equipment is within 8 feet vertically and 5 feet horizontally of the floor or walking surface. The equipment is within 8 feet vertically and 5 feet horizontally of grounded metal objects you could touch. The equipment is located in a wet or damp area and is not isolated. The equipment is connected to a power supply by cord and plug and is not double-insulated. Use GFCIs The use of GFCIs has lowered the number of electrocutions dramatically. A GFCI is a fast-acting switch that detects any difference in current between two circuit conductors. If either conductor comes in contact--either directly or through part of your body--with a ground (a situation known as a ground fault), the GFCI opens the circuit in a fraction of a second. If a current as small as 4 to 6 mA does not pass through both wires properly, but instead leaks to the ground, the GFCI is tripped. The current is shut off. There is a more sensitive kind of GFCI called an isolation GFCI. If a circuit has an isolation GFCI, the ground fault current passes through an electronic sensing circuit in the GFCI. The electronic sensing circuit has enough resistance to limit current to as little as 2 mA, which is too low to cause a dangerous shock. GFCIs are usually in the form of a duplex receptacle. They are also available in portable and plug-in designs and as circuit breakers that protect an entire branch circuit. GFCIs can operate on both twoand three-wire ground systems. For a GFCI to work properly, the neutral conductor (white wire) must (1) be continuous, (2) have low resistance, and (3) have sufficient current-carrying capacity. GFCIs help protect you from electrical shock by continuously monitoring the circuit. However, a GFCI does not protect a person from line-to-line hazards such as touching two "hot" wires (240 volts) at the same time or touching a "hot" and neutral wire at the same time. Also be aware that instantaneous currents can be high when a GFCI is tripped. A shock may still be felt. Your reaction to the shock could cause injury, perhaps from falling. Test GFCIs regularly by pressing the "test" button. If the circuit does not turn off, the GFCI is faulty and must be replaced. Portable GFCI. GFCIs have their limitations. Page 50 Section 7 A female assistant manager of a swim club was instructed to add a certain chemical to the pool. She went down into the pump room, barefoot. The room was below ground level, and the floor was covered with water. She filled a plastic drum with...
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- Spring '09