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CONN-OSHA Quarterly

Volume No. 32
Winter 2003

Relocatable Power Taps (a.k.a. strip plugs, power strips, power taps, temporary power taps,
& transient voltage surge suppressors)

Jeff Carter, Safety Consultant

The history.  Relocatable Power Taps became popular with the advent of computers and their associated components. The computer, monitor, printer and scanner required numerous receptacles for power. It was not reasonable to expect the installation of additional receptacle outlets in the “premises wiring system” by each computer. Additionally, the devices required at a single workstation may only draw a total of 3 to 5 amperes of current (360 to 600 Watts).

What they are.  Although referred to as many things, Relocatable Power Taps, or simply RPTs, are made up of various components including as many as six receptacles, frequently an on/off power switch, circuit breaker and a flexible cord. They are evaluated and listed by Underwriter Laboratories Inc. (‘UL’) under standard UL1363 titled, “Relocatable Power Taps”.

RPTs that provide electrical surge protection and electrical noise filtering are called Transient Voltage Surge Suppressers or simply TVSSs. Although these TVSSs are listed under a different UL standard, they are treated the same for OSHA purposes.

What they are not.  RPTs are not extension cords (called cordsets by UL) nor are they temporary wiring. Originally RPTs were called Temporary Power Taps or TPTs and the title of UL1363 was in fact “Temporary Power Taps”. Creating a source of confusion to     users, in 1999 UL changed the title of the standard and the marking requirements in an effort to correct the improper assumption that this device is temporary wiring.

The only remaining reference to ‘temporary’ in UL1363 is the requirement that the physical mounting of the device shall not require the use of tools to remove it. Mounting may be desirable to avoid physical damage to the unit by such things as office chairs or vacuum cleaners, but removal shall be accomplished without tools.

Use or misuse.  The best description for their proper use is that they are designed for a high concentration of low ampere loads. Usually up to six loads can be safely powered by RPTs.

The “General Information for Electrical Equipment Directory” (called the UL white book) published annually by UL lists usage requirements for all of UL’s product categories including RPTs. The UL white book describes the use of RPTs as “a relocatable multiple outlet extension of the branch circuit to supply laboratory equipment, home workshops, home movie lighting controls, musical instrumentation, and to provide outlet receptacles for computers, audio and video equipment and other equipment”.

There are many ways to misuse these devices. Inappropriate loads such as refrigerators, coffee pots, space heaters, microwave ovens, toasters, toaster ovens, motor driven equipment, and other high draw equipment pose a greater load on the device than they are designed to handle.

Always Start with the Instructions.  Instructions for use are addressed by the manufacturer and UL. Unless the RPT is new, manufacturer’s instructions may not be available. The label on the RPT will not have all the instructions but generally states, “indoors use, dry location only” and the maximum ampere rating, usually 15 amps.

The UL white book states, “Relocatable power taps are intended to be directly connected to a permanently installed receptacle. Relocatable power taps are not intended to be series connected (daisy chained) to other relocatable power taps or to extension cords. Relocatable power taps are not intended for use at construction sites and similar locations. Relocatable power taps are not intended to be permanently secured to building structures, tables, work benches, or similar structures, nor are they intended to be used as a substitute for fixed wiring. The cords of relocatable power taps are not intended to be routed through walls, windows, ceilings, floors or similar openings”.

Remember the UL position on permanent securing. It’s often desirable to secure the RPT to avoid damage. Securing is permissible by the UL standard as long as no tools are required to remove it. Therefore they are not permanently secured.

Standards which apply.  OSHA’s General Industry standard 19Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office.303(b)(2) and Construction standard 1926.403(b)(2) state, “Listed or labeled equipment shall be used or installed in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling”.

For RPTs with flexible cords, OSHA’s 19Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office.305(g)(1) outlines uses of flexible cords.

OSHA’s 19Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office.304(b)(2) states, “outlet devices shall have an ampere rating not less than the load to be served”. Generally the maximum cord and plug connected load to a 15-ampere branch circuit is limited to 80% of the handle rating of the  circuit breaker, or 12 amperes. This is easily exceeded with heavy appliances but not with the lighter loads of computer peripherals and other equipment listed for intended use with RPTs.

Do’s and Don’ts.  Do: use RPTs for their intended use and with the intended equipment or loads; avoid physical damage, exposure to water or wet locations. 

Don’t: plug in heavy appliances with high power demands, into extension cords or other RPTs, use outdoors, on construction sites or in violation of other applicable standards or listings.


Connecticut Company Recognized for Workplace Safety and Health Achievements

Cooper Instrument Corporation, Middlefield, Connecticut, was certified on September 20, 2002 as a Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) site.  Employing 1Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office workers, Cooper is the second company receiving such recognition in Connecticut.  SHARP recognizes employers who have demonstrated exemplary achievements in workplace safety and health by receiving consultation visits, correcting workplace safety and health hazards, and adopting and implementing effective safety and health management systems.  The Connecticut Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Division provided the consultative services to Cooper, encouraging them to pursue this recognition.
 


CONN-OSHA Training Update

All sessions will be held at the Connecticut Department of Labor Staff Development Conference Room “A,” 200 Folly Brook Blvd., Wethersfield, CT, unless otherwise indicated.  To register for one these sessions, please call Mary at (860) 566-4550 or send an e-mail to john.able@osha.gov.

**There is no charge for the following training sessions. **

Schedule:

January 28, 2003, 9 am – 12 noon
Nursing Homes

The National Emphasis Program, Bloodborne Pathogens, Sharps Injury Log, Ergonomic Guidelines, OSHA 300 Recordkeeping - Learn all about it!  Safety & Health Officers, Infection Control Nurses, Administrators, Facility Managers and others interested in a fast paced, interactive session covering health-care related issues should attend.  

February 11, 2003, 8 am – 9:30 am
Breakfast Roundtable Discussion Group

Interest has been expressed for a monthly, early morning,   informal forum to interact with other people to discuss safety and health issues.  This first session is planned to be an interactive type of meeting that will allow participants the opportunity to ask questions, offer solutions, network with other safety and health professionals, drink free coffee and learn what is happening in other places of employment, all in a friendly, professional atmosphere. 

Note:  This meeting will be held in Conference Room C at the CONN-OSHA office, 38 Wolcott Hill Road, Wethersfield, CT.

February 25, 2003, 9 am – 12 noon
Powered Industrial Trucks

Did you know that you are required to conduct an evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator’s performance at least once every three years?  If you trained your personnel in accordance with the December 1998 revision to the standard concerning operator training, it is time to renew the certification that states that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by 29CFR19Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office.178(l).  This session will review the requirements of the standard, allowing you to return to your facility with the necessary information to ensure safe operations within your facility.

March 25, 2003, 9 am – 12 noon
Work Zone Safety

Building and maintaining roads can be dangerous.  Each year about 7,500 highway construction workers get hurt and more than 80 highway construction workers are killed on the job.  The dangers can be minimized if you are made more aware of the hazards, and are provided with ways to avoid the hazards.  Basic guidelines for work zone traffic control and the requirements of Part VI of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), with particular emphasis on short term work sites on roads and streets in rural and small urban areas, will be presented.


Reducing the Risk of Injuries From Slips and Falls
Paul Hartmann, Safety Consultant

High school auto shop, Public Works maintenance garage, Town Hall, or office areas. One concern that virtually all places of employment share is injuries that result from slipping and falling on working and walking surfaces.

Sometimes determining how to best guard a mechanical power press is less difficult than finding a way to deal with the problem of slippery floors. Consider some of the causes of slippery floors:  saw dust, metal chips, shot blast material, cooking oil, spilled coffee, leaks from autos and powered industrial trucks, just to name a few.

The solutions are even more numerous and can be confusing. Probably the most well known is the “Caution Wet Floor” sign used during and after washing a walkway.

As a Safety consultant, I must make recommendations that will help to reduce or eliminate employee injuries from slips and falls on walking and working surfaces. Some of the more common recommendations are to keep floors clean and free from obstructions and always maintain walkways AT LEAST 28 inches wide.

There really is a difference in floor cleaning and polishing products. If you do not want to conduct your own tests to determine the co-efficient of drag, try asking the building maintenance people at any large, well maintained facility that has the same flooring material.

Winter weather brings its own slipping hazards in the form of ice and snow. Employers will want to be sure that all doors that might be used as a means of emergency exit are cleared before employees arrive. Parking areas and the walkways from cars to the building should also be clear. 

For workers who are more prone to be injured by slips and falls, there are several types of foot wear available that can reduce the risk. Rubbers come with various tread designs and some offer short metal spikes to help ensure that steps will be secure and free from slips. Finally let’s not forget old-fashioned common sense: slow down, look where you’re setting your feet down and be cautious of those around you - sometimes their actions can have an adverse effect on your well being.


CONN-OSHA Quarterly Update

In order to keep up with technology, the CONN-OSHA Quarterly soon will be available for electronic distribution.  Once we make this transition, The Quarterly no longer will be available in a paper edition.  We anticipate that the last paper  edition will be in Spring 2003. 

If you would like to receive The Quarterly electronically, subscription information will be available in the next issue.  You may also e-mail Lisa Costanzo at lisa.costanzo@po.state.ct.us, who will notify you with subscription information when it becomes available.  If you chose this option, please indicate that you already receive The Quarterly by mail and include your mailing information as it appears on the above label.

We understand that not everyone has a means to receive mail electronically.  If you do not have electronic access, please contact Lisa at (860) 566-4550 to discuss accessibility options.

In addition, all current and past issues of the CONN-OSHA Quarterly are currently available on the CONN-OSHA web site at www.ctdol.state.ct.us/osha/osha.htm.

CONN-OSHA Quarterly Index

Last Updated: March 01, 2017


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