GFCI Importance: November 2022 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: What is the importance of ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) and where should they be located in my workplace?


Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are important because they are used to protect people from electrical shock hazards caused by malfunctioning electrical appliances. For example, if a person is using a defective electrical appliance and also touching a wet surface or very conductive surface, the person could become part of the grounding pathway for the fault current. The GFCI would detect this current imbalance and disconnect electricity within 20-30 milliseconds before the dangerous electrical current could pass through the person’s body which could cause serious electrical shock or death.

Depending on the workplace and work being done, GFCIs could be required/needed in several areas. According to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.304(b)(3)(i): All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in bathrooms or on rooftops shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

Other areas where GFCI protection should be located in your workplace include: kitchens, outdoor areas, within 6 feet of water sources (sinks, showers, etc.), laundry areas, locker rooms, garages, service bays and any other areas exposed to moisture. Vending machines require GCFI protection regardless of being hard wired, plug and cord connected, voltage current or frequency rating. Additionally, temporary wiring installations (including extension cords) used by personnel doing construction-like activities require GFCI’s protection.

Per equipment instructions these devices should be tested monthly. You can document with logs or procedures, that GFCIs are tested monthly and promptly replace those found defective.

If you need assistance with determining where GFCI protection is needed in your facility, contact your assigned BWC safety consultant.

*Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.