GFCI at Work and Home

A Ground Fault Circuit Interpreter (GFCI) is a fast-acting circuit breaker device used at home, the workplace, and on construction sites to prevent any common electrical shock hazards. If it is properly installed and maintained it will shut off electrical power when a faulty tool is plugged in. A GFCI should be provided anywhere subjected to moisture such as bathrooms, unfinished basements, kitchens, laundry rooms, and outdoors. The most commonly used GFCIs are “receptacle- type,” which is the same as a common wall outlet. Temporary GFCIs are used on construction sites or outdoors when using electrical tools, trimmers, etc. These GFCIs should not be used permanently and they must be tested and inspected before use. They must be checked on a monthly basis to determine if they are operating properly. To avoid nuisance tripping, a temporary GFCI should not be used for a circuit more than 100 feet, a fluorescent light, or for permanent electrical motors. Handheld tools in good condition do not usually cause tripping, but stationary motors such as bathroom vent fans or florescent fixtures can cause nuisance tripping. OSHA and the NEC (National Electrical Code) require any extension cords or plug connecting equipment used to construct, demolish, repair, or maintain to use GFCI protection. All employees must be trained and educated on electrical safety at the workplace according to OSHA requirements.

  1. Some GFCI Tips:
  • Install GFCIs at areas that are wet or damp to prevent electrical shock.
    • Do not use electrical tools in a wet area without a GFCI.
  • Use a portable in-line GFCI if you are not sure whether or not the receptacle is already protected by a GFCI.
  • Label all circuit breakers and fuse boxes clearly.
  • Do not block access to circuit breakers and fuse boxes.
  • Make sure exposed receptacle boxes are made of non-conductive materials.
  • Inspect portable cords and plugs before use.
  • Turn off all tools before connecting to a power supply.
  • Test all tools for GFCI before use.
  • A GFCI can be installed in place of regular outlets in order to prevent electrocution.