Health and Safety      College of Science and Engineering (COSE)

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Extension Cords


1.  Extension cords are intended for temporary use to power equipment.

If you are placing a computer, refrigerator, or other equipment in a location too far from an existing electrical outlet for the cord to reach, you must ask for a permanent electrical outlet. You may use an appropriate extension cord in good condition until the new outlet is installed.

  • Extension cords must be protected from physical damage, wet or corrosive conditions.
  • Electrical cords must be secured to prevent a trip hazard.
  • Extension cords shall not extend through walls, ceilings, floors, under doors, or floor coverings.


2.  If not plugged directly into a wall outlet, computers, monitors, printers, applicances, etc, must be plugged into a power strip that is both rated to handle the load and equipped with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).


3.  One may not "daisy chain" extension cords, power strips, etc in order to reach an outlet out of reach of an item needing power.


  • Example 1: Plugging a printer, computer, monitor, etc. into a power strip and then plugging the power strip into an extension cord to reach an outlet.
  • Example 2: Plugging a microwave or copy machine into an extension cord to reach a wall plug (or even worse, another extension cord or power strip) some distance away. 


Situations such as this violate OSHA regulations as well as the California Electric Code because these often are, for all intents and purposes, "permanent" installations. A permanent electrical outlet is therefore required to be in compliance. Contact your department office for assistance in submitting a work order, as the installation, if approved, will be billed to the department.

Plenum-rated cables and cords

All flexible cables, cords, and tubing that are run through the ceiling must be plenum-rated before they can be used in this way. Remove or replace non-rated cables, hoses, and cords or run the data lines and cables under the ceiling.



Office Chemical Hazards

A variety of office and computer products may contain small amounts of hazardous chemicals. Since most of these products are used intermittently and in small quantities, exposure is not expected to produce adverse health effects under “normal conditions of use.”

  1. Carbonless copy paper: Older types may release small amounts of formaldehyde and while below the established legal limits, a few individuals may experience various symptoms including headaches and skin, eye or respiratory irritation.
  2. Dry and liquid toners for photocopy machines and laser printers contain
    chemicals such as carbon black and resins, which can be harmful if high exposure occurs. Prolonged exposure to toner powder or vapors may cause eye and respiratory irritation and should be avoided. These machines may also produce small quantities of ozone, which is a toxic gas with a pungent odor that can irritate eyes, nose, and throat.
  3. Stamp pad and black mimeograph ink can be harmful if swallowed or produce eye irritation on contact.
  4. Glues, rubber cement, correction fluids, duplication fluids, broad-tip marker pens, and cleaning products may contain solvents that can pose both a health and a fire hazard under certain conditions. These chemicals could cause drying and/or irritation to the eyes and skin on direct contact. Vapors from the chemicals can cause irritation to the mucous membranes of the eyes, sinuses, and respiratory system and central nervous.

First Aid

First Aid Information can be found by reading the MSDS, but note the general guidelines below:

  • For skin contact, wash with soap and water, and for eye exposure, flush eyes with water immediately and for at least 15 minutes.
  • For overexposure by inhalation, remove the victim to fresh air, and
  • For ingestion, check the MSDS for first aid procedures or call the California Poison Action Line at 1 (800) 222-1222. If in doubt, seek medical attention immediately.

For ingestion, check the MSDS for first aid procedures or call the California Poison Action Line at 1 (800) 222-1222. If in doubt, seek medical attention immediately.

Avoiding Unwanted Exposures

Employees can protect themselves from the potential hazards of office and computer products by:

  • Following the container label directions
  • Using products in areas with air circulation
  • Avoiding breathing the vapors
  • Preventing contact with skin and eyes
  • Keeping containers covered to reduce fumes and spills
  • Consulting the MSDSs.


More Information

Cal/OSHA Electrical Safety Pamphlet (PDF)

Fast Facts: Power Strips and Dangerous Safety Chains (PDF)

Hazard Communication Program (COSE) (PDF)

California Poison Action Line link


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