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Flexible Cords and Cables shop inspection:

I completed an extension cord inspection yesterday and took 12 cords out of service for various reasons. I then instruced "Joe" the maintenance man to cut off all of the offending parts so they would not be used prior to repair. I proceeded to order new plugs and sockets.

Later that day Joe came in to discuss the repair of chaffed and insulation damged cords. These cords would need to be cut and spliced to make the repair. I faithfully recited 29 CFR 1910.305(g)(2)(ii): Only continuous lenghts without splices or taps. Service cords 14awg and large may be repaired if spliced so that the splice retains the insulation, outer sheath properties, and usage characteristics of the cord being spiced. (Those of us who work in the water treatment industry like intact extension cords with GFCI protection.)

So it seems to me it would be extremely difficult to repair an extension cord that retains its characteristics as purchased. Joe disagreed and brought me insulated butt splice connectors and a piece of heat shink which he says, "Meets the OSHA requirement and the cords could be repaired".

I say if the cord insulation or sheath properties have been compromised the cord can not be fixed, throw it out.
Joe say the cord can be fixed and restored to their original properties.

Who's is correct? Can an extension cord be spliced to satisfy the OSHA regulation?

Bragging rights are on the line for this Safety Coordinator.

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Replies to This Discussion

Normally, electrical equipment must be approved as an assembly by a nationally recognized testing laboratory to be acceptable under the General Industry or Construction Electrical Standards (Part 1910, Subpart S and Part 1926, Subpart K, respectively).

However, it is also true that cord sets, assembled in the field by qualified persons, are appropriately used in both general industry and in the construction industry, under limited circumstances. Such cord sets are considered to be temporary wiring extensions of the branch circuit.

Temporary electrical power and lighting wiring methods, as specified in 1910.305(a)(2) and 1926.405(a)(2), may be of a class less than that required for a permanent installation. Thus, temporary electrical power and lighting installations are permitted during the period of construction, remodeling, maintenance, repair or demolition of buildings, structures and equipment or similar activities. Such temporary wiring must be removed immediately upon completion of the work for which the wiring was installed.

When the temporary wiring consists of shop-made cord sets, etc., using approved parts, as permitted by 1910.305(a)(2) and 1926.405(a)(2) the requirements for listing by a nationally recognized testing laboratory do not apply.

The practice of assembling electrical extension cords is considered to be in compliance with OSHA standards provided the assembled cord sets are assembled in a manner equivalent to those that are factory-assembled and approved. Criteria for determining whether shop-made cord sets meet existing electrical standards include:

1. All components must be approved for the purpose by a nationally recognized testing laboratory (1910.303(a)) and (1926.403(a)). Individual components must be compatible for use with the other components of the completed assembly.

2. The cord set must meet all applicable requirements of 1910 Subpart S and 1926 Subpart K. For example, the assembly must be marked appropriately (1910.303(e)) and (1926.405(g)(2)(iv)); boxing intended for use in a permanent installation may not be used (1910.303(b)(1)(i) and 1926.403(b)(1)(i)); cords must be connected to devices and fittings so as to provide strain relief (1910.305(g)(2) (iii) and 1926.405(g)(2)(iv)); cords passing through holes in enclosures must be protected by bushings or fittings designed for the purpose (1926.405(g)(2)(v)- fittings designed to fasten cables to metal boxes are not acceptable); and no grounded conductor shall be attached to any terminal or lead so as to reverse designated polarity (1910.304(a)(2)) and (1926.404(a)(2)).

3. The cord set must be assembled by a qualified person.

4. The wiring of the completed assembly must be inspected by a qualified person before the cord set is used initially. For example, the following checks and tests, or equivalent, should be performed:

(a) Determine that all equipment grounding conductors are electrically continuous.

(b) Test all equipment grounding conductors for electrical continuity.

(c) Determine that each equipment grounding conductor is connected to its proper terminal.

(d) Test each receptacle and attachment plug to ensure correct attachment of the equipment grounding conductor.
This may not be the answer that you are looking for and the end result should not be who is right and who is wrong. I believe that is why we end up with problems in safety because everyone wants to be “right”. Instead, I would ask Joe some questions like if his time might be better used elsewhere rather than spending the time to repair these cords instead of buying used ones. Another question might be in reference to liability if the cords in some way malfunctioned he could be held civilly and even criminally responsible. Is he willing to take that chance. I would also point out that OSHA regulations are ‘minimum’ requirements and that replacing the cords all together would be a long ways toward communicating the message to employees that their safety is more valuable than saving a couple of bucks. Jay D. Rohman

This is a first for me, may I inquire the name brand of heat shrink tube, I honestly want to research this! Most CSHO's would argue this point. Let's see what the manufacturing company really has to say about meeting OSHA requirements? What is their testing procedure? Then I may be able to back you up on this.
Larry Riley
OSHA Outreach Instructor
Access Safety Compliance Training, Inc

7/16/1986, Mr. W.J. Conkling letter of interpretation states that "Heat shrinkable insulating covers are acceptable in making of splices." We do not allow electrical tape to be used on cord repairs. I've heard that OSHA "likes" a product called "WrapFix" from the Duct company. Supposedly, one can get it at Walmart although I've never used it.
I don't allow damaged cords to be put back in service. They are to be destroyed immediately so noone gets the idea of trying a "repair job". All of our cords are labeled, categorized, and inspected quarterly. I put this into place about 5 months ago and I still occasionally find a cord that was never recorded. I pull it immediately and bring it to maintenance to be numbered and put into the system. Why take the chance with someone's life over a cord that might cost $20 new.
I could not agree more. The $20.00 cords are now destroyed immediatley. (If I could only get the end user to evaluate the safety of the cord he/she is using.) However, some of the cords we use can cost over $200.00. This is considered an investment by management so the cords get repaired until the cords length is no longer of usable value.
I am very interested to know what data you keep on the cords. It sounds like a good tool to keep track of the cords and their useful life.
Communication, Communication, Communication

By OSHA standards they can be as long as they meet the requirements already laid out. Personally, I would rather just replace it. Too much liability involved. Just please remember that if you adopt a site practice that is equivalent and in excess of the requirement (highly recommended) to please pass this off as a site practice and not a "OSHA Code Requirement". It makes an electricians life easier!
We have ongoing dicussions on this very same matter. Is it ok to splice an extension cord or not? I have an extensive electrical background, I worked in the mining industry for 14 years. I have my Federal electrical card issued to me by MSHA. I take my job as a supervisor very seriously and would not put my mechanics in harms way. I'm not one who takes safety lightly, being unsafe costs lives. Would I throw away an extension cord if it were damaged? Probably not. Would I repair it? Yes. In mining the voltages range from 110 Ac up 25,000 Kva, while most of the high voltage cable are not spliced on site all the other are, underground even. MSHA requires that equal amounts of insulation or more be put back into each splice. These splices hold up very well to the rigors of underground mining and have for decades.
Ok, I am Canadian but I do know this ...about that! =)

OSHA 29CFR1910.303 (a) states that conductors and equipment are acceptable for use only if they are approved by recognized laboratories (ie: UL, FM, etc.).


Approved extension cords are only allowable in the workplace b>as temporary wiring, and for no more than 90 days.

Hope this helps!


Where did you find the " more than 90 days" part?

It is my understanding that the 90 day limit refers to Christmas decorations, carnivals, and other similar uses:

§ 1910.305 Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use.
(a) Wiring methods. The provisions of this section do not apply to conductors that are an integral part of factory-assembled equipment.
(2) Temporary wiring. Except as specifically modified in this paragraph, all other requirements of this subpart for permanent wiring shall also apply to temporary wiring installations.
(i) Temporary electrical power and lighting installations of 600 volts, nominal, or less may be used only as follows:
(A) During and for remodeling, maintenance, or repair of buildings,structures, or equipment, and similar activities;
(B) For a period not to exceed 90 days for Christmas decorative lighting, carnivals, and similar purposes;

"My note - not included in 29 CFR 1926 - Subpart K;"
"My note - included in NFPA 70-2008 (NEC) Section 590.3 (B);"
"My note - Deleted from 2009 Edition of NFPA 70E-2009"
"My note - Cross Referencing provided by TMK and Associates Inc. "Elect Standards Cross Ref"

(C) For experimental or development work, and during emergencies.
(ii) Temporary wiring shall be removed immediately upon completion of the project or purpose for which the wiring was installed.
To my understanding, cords can be fixed and spliced to meet OSHA regulations, but must (in turn) be electrically tested by a NRTL to ensure compliance.

By the time you do the repair, send the cord out for testing, pay for the test and get it back (shipping costs extra), you have spent about 45 times the cost of driving over to Loewes or Home Depot to buy a new one.


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