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Improper use of Breaker Panels

My name is Jill, Chief Safety Officer with Vivid Learning Systems. I'm a former OSHA inspector here to help you identify and correct workplace safety hazards.

Do you ever use a breaker panel to turn lights in your facility off and on every day? Or a breaker to turn other equipment on with frequency? If that's the case and you're using a breaker like a switch, there's a hazard associated with that and you should know. Breakers are not intended to be used with frequency like a light switch on the wall. They're just not rated for it, and here's the reason why.

Inside of these breakers is a spring and that spring is very tight and it's tight for a reason. It's so that the breaker can trip quickly out of your hand when you trip it so there isn't an opportunity for an arc flash to happen in that breaker causing a ball of fire to come out at you.

Now if you need to turn lights off and on at a breaker panel or turn something else on with frequency there's a way that you can do that safer. You can ask a qualified electrician to install in your breaker panel what's called a switch rated breaker and they're intended to be used just like a switch on the wall and then you can safely use it that way.

Finally I'd like to share a safe work practice with you that an electrician taught me a long time ago. When you're going to trip a breaker in a breaker panel don't stand with your body in front of the breaker panel in case there is an arc flash. Always stand to the side with your body, identify the breaker that you're going to trip, and then turn your face away and then trip the breaker so that if the worst were to happen and there were to be an arc flesh it's blowing over your shoulder and away from you.

I hope you gained a safety skill today if you know someone who needs this go ahead and pass it on.

Safety is everyone's business.