I've been told we cannot use extension cords in a healthcare setting; however, I see surge protectors used as extension cords....is this ok?
They are supposed to be plugged directly into a wall outlet.
Yes, thanks very much
Linda Miller, BSMT(ASCP)
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2816 Fox Meadow Lane, Jonesboro, AR 72404
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NFPA1 Chapter 11 addresses extension cords and surge protectors (relocatable power taps) as two separate items. Extension cords shall not be used in place of permanent wiring. Relocatable power taps can be used but shall be polarized or ground type with overcurrent protection and have listing i.e. (UL). source 2012 NFPA1 188.8.131.52.
I think the intent of the code is to use the devise as it was intended according to its UL listing. So the question is are you using a relocatable power taps (surge protector) as an extension cord in place of permanent wiring?
Outside of any NFPA rules, OSHA does place several restrictions for the use of Relocatable Power Taps (RPT) "Power Strips" in the workplace. While the OSHA regulations don't specifically spell out the "do's and don'ts" of power strip usage, 29 CFR 1910.303(b)(2) states "Installation and use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing and labeling."
This basically means any electrical equipment, including power strips, shall only be used according to their "Listed and labeled" restrictions as determined by a "Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory" (NRTL) such as UL. Unfortunately many power strip manufacturers don't clearly state these restrictions in the instructions included with their products. However in UL's General Information for Electrical Equipment Directory, sometimes called the "UL White Book" you'll find the limitations for power strip usage.
Here's a list of some of the restrictions for the use of RPT's or power strips:
RPT's are to be directly connected to a permanently installed branch circuit, which means plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet.
RPT's are not allowed to be connected to other RPT's sometimes called "Daisy Chaining" or connected to extension cords either feeding the RPT or being fed from the RPT.
RPT's are not intended to be used at construction sites or other similar locations.
RPT's are designed for "low powered loads" such as computers, peripherals or audio/video components. They are not to be used with "high power loads" such as space heaters, refrigerators, microwave ovens, toasters, coffee makers, etc.
OSHA inspectors have and will issue citations if these conditions are found in a workplace during an inspection.
OSHA has a Letter of Interpretation (LOI) dated November 18, 2002 on their website specifically addressing a question about power strips. I attempted to place a hyperlink to OSHA's website so you can read this LOI for yourself however I've been unable to paste the link in this forum page. However if you go to OSHA's website, search on 1910.303, then go to section 1910.303(b)(2) which is blue in color. Double click on the blue section which will take you to "Standard Interpretations". Double click on it and scroll through the list to item #8.
Hopefully this information will help keep your workplace safe and in compliance with applicable safety regulations.
Sorry Linda but in my previous answer I missed the part of your question about "health care settings".
According to section 40.13 from UL 1363 "Relocatable Power Taps" (RPT) and section 64.23 from UL 1449 "Surge Protection Devices" (SPD), these devices are not allowed to be used in general patient care areas. It specifically reads:
"An RPT and a type 3 SPD that incorporates a molded-on or assembled-on hospital grade attachment plug or receptacle shall be marked with the following or equivalent wording: "CAUTION: Risk of Electric Shock - Do not use in General Patient Care Areas or Critical Patient Care Areas. This relocatable power tap/surge protection device has not been evaluated for use where Article 517 of the National Electric Code requires Hospital Grade components."
However they can be used in other areas of the hospital and health care facilities where patients are not cared for, examined or treated such as business offices, waiting rooms, etc.
An RPT which is specifically designed for use in patient care areas will be designated "Special Purpose Relocatable Power Taps" (SPRPT) and should be listed under UL 1363A.
Here's some information from UL regarding RPT/SPD and SPRPTs.
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