Zip Ties & Electrical Workplace Safety

Amy Greenberg, Contributor

When dealing with electrical work, safety is of the utmost importance. The electrical industry has some of the most stringent safety laws and regulations, all aimed at ensuring the health and well-being of the workforce when on the job.

One device in which every electrical worker is well-versed is the zip tie, the tried-and-true cable and wire bundling tool used on nearly every electrical job in the country. What you may not have known, however, is that zip ties can also be used to meet those strict safety standards and regulations.

How Zip Ties Can Aid Workplace Safety

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) states that most electrical accidents result from one of the following three factors:

  • unsafe equipment or installation
  • unsafe environment, or
  • unsafe work practices

While accidents do happen, there are steps everyone who may encounter electric currents on a jobsite can take to improve workplace safety. Many of these solutions call for zip ties.

Tagout Procedures

Tagout procedures refer to the measures workers take on a job site to ensure that hazardous equipment is properly shut off and will not be used. For electrical work, tagout procedures call for a tag or lock to be placed on the controls, absolutely securing it and preventing it from being turned on again.

OSHA has determined zip ties to be a useful tool for tagout on electrical jobs. The rule states:

“Tagout devices, including their means of attachment, shall be substantial enough to prevent inadvertent or accidental removal. Tagout device attachment means shall be of a non-reusable type, attachable by hand, self-locking and non-releasable with a minimum unlocking strength of no less than 50lbs and shall have the general design and basic characteristics of being at least equivalent to a one-piece, all-environment-tolerant nylon cable tie.”

Nylon cable ties come in many different tensile strengths, but to achieve the 50lb plus strength required by OSHA regulations, you should look for light heavy duty/heavy duty zip ties or extra heavy duty zip ties.

An important note in the OSHA standard is that any zip tie used for tagout must also have a “tag” area, or a place where proper identification can be displayed. If you have standard cable ties already, an easy solution would be to use Blank Flag Tie Markers, which can easily be attached to a regular cable tie and can be written on to identify a tagout.

A secondary option would be to use Identification or Flag ID zip ties, which come in tensile strengths from 50-120lbs. These ties already have a tag attached to them, so you can safely and securely identify a tagout with just one tie.

Electrical Insulation

Insulation is one of the best ways to protect yourself from an electrical hazard. OSHA explains insulation as a guard that helps stop or reduce the flow of electrical current, which then helps prevent shock, fires and short circuits.

A zip tie accessory, called a terminal, can help with electrical current insulation and promote safety on the jobsite. Two common types of insulation terminals are:

  • Vinyl Insulated Butted Seam Block Spade Terminals
  • Nylon Insulated w/ Insulation Grip Ring Terminals

These terminals are used when an insulated barrel and positive insulation grip are needed for a wiring job. These terminals are great for transferring the electric current from the grounding source to the endpoint in a safe manner. The insulation level on these terminals provides another level of protection from electric shock or burn.

Wire Bundling

An obvious use of zip ties for electrical work, but one worth mentioning, is to bundle and secure cables and wires. It is said that most workplace accidents could be avoided with extra safety measures, and keeping wiring and cable bundles neat and secure just adds another level of security.

For electrical work, the most common and dependable zip tie is the nylon zip tie. It is non-conducive; can handle weights up to 250lbs; and comes in a variety of colors to help easily identify wires. Most importantly, nylon ties are UV-stabilized/heat-stabilized and can be used in environments that will see continuous or extended exposure to high temperatures (up to 250°F). They also meet UL standards for electrical applications. WMHS

Amy Greenberg is the Marketing Manager at Nelco Products, Inc.