School of Medicine Nephropathology Laboratory: Laboratory Electrical Safety


School of Medicine Nephropathology Laboratory: Laboratory Electrical Safety



Every laboratory on UNC’s campus has electrically powered equipment that is used routinely in day-to-day operations. Examples include: stir plates, hot plates, centrifuges, UV lamps, microscopes, microtome, scales, processors, refrigerators, and freezers. This equipment can pose a serious hazard if not properly maintained or improperly used. In addition, an electrical hazard could damage expensive equipment or wipe out years of research.

The major hazards associated with electricity in the laboratory environment are electrical shock or electrical fire. 

All laboratory instruments and appliances should be adequately grounded and checked for current leakage. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that power cords of portable electrical equipment be visually inspected for external defects.

All workers should be aware of the risks associated with electrically energized equipment and should:

  • Inspect wiring of equipment before each use.
  • Replace all frayed or damaged electrical cords immediately. 
  • Only equipment with three prongs (ground) should be used in the laboratory.
  • Limit the use of extension cords. Use only for temporary operations. In all other cases, request installation of a new electrical outlet.
  • Minimize the potential for water or chemical spills on or near electrical equipment.
  • Ensure that GFCI outlets are installed and used when water is present within 6 feet. 
  • Know the location and how to operate shut-off switches and/or circuit breaker panels. Use these devices to shut off equipment in the event of a fire or electrocution.

Contact Information

If you have further questions about electrical hazards or suspect a potential hazard in your laboratory please contact UNC Environment, Health and Safety (919-962-5507).


Created: 10/28/11 LHR

Replaces: N/A


  • 9/25/13 LHR
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Article ID: 134344
Sun 7/11/21 11:10 PM
Wed 2/1/23 12:55 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
School of Medicine - Nephropathology Laboratory
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Medical Laboratory Supervisor
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
02/01/2024 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
02/01/2023 12:00 AM
Last Revised
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09/25/2013 12:00 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
09/25/2013 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
10/28/2011 12:00 AM