Importance of GFCI protection

It is important to recognize the hazards and potential consequences of an electrical ground fault. Ground faults put you at risk of shock or electrocution. This risk is high in wet environments and locations close to water. This includes bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas common to moisture. Water provides a path for electricity. Also, human tissue has a low resistance to electrical currents, so when someone comes into contact with a live electrical conductor, they become the path of least resistance and suffer an electrical shock.

Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are used for protection from an electrical ground fault. They will also protect against fires and overheating. A GFCI is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to turn off electric power in the event of a ground fault. It works by allowing current flow going to and returning from equipment to be equal, and if this flow differs, the GFCI interrupts the current to prevent injuries.

It is also necessary to regularly test a GFCI for an indication that it is working properly. GFCIs are sensitive devices that can wear out or become damaged easily. If the GFCI is not working properly, it is not providing protection and may allow electricity to flow. Tests should be conducted monthly, or for plug-in devices, tests should be according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. To test, push the TEST button and attempt to operate the connected device. This should pop the RESET button out, and the equipment should not function. Pushing the RESET button will restore the GFCI circuit. If the GFCI does not disable the circuit, contact a qualified electrician for replacement.

By: Courtney Rosengartner
Sr. Loss Control Specialist


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