Electrical Safety Hazard Caused By Unused Openings In Electrical Equipment

Electrical Safety Hazard Caused By Unused Openings In Electrical Equipment


Electrical Safety Hazard Caused By Unused Openings In Electrical Equipment

Missing Circuit Breaker

Unused openings are created when a circuit breaker has been removed. Unused & Uncovered Openings In Electrical Equipment Can Pose An Electrical Safety Hazard. This might happen when a particular piece of equipment is no longer in use or has been moved to another location in the plant. The area vacated by the circuit breaker has to be covered
and made safe.


OSHA addresses these hazards in 1910.303(b)(7)(i).
“Unused openings in boxes, raceways, auxiliary gutters, cabinets, equipment cases, or housings shall be effectively closed to afford protection substantially equivalent to the wall of the equipment.”

Visual Inspection

A safety manager can easily spot these hazards with a visual inspection. Open the hinged door on circuit breaker panel boards, this should expose only the face of the circuit breakers, and observe if there are any breakers missing. If you see an unused opening close the door and notify maintenance for repair.

Filler Plates

When a circuit breaker is removed from a breaker panelboard it leaves an unused opening. Every manufacturer of panelboards makes what is called a filler plate to cover this opening. These filler plates are important; without them workers are exposed to live conductors anytime the door is opened. Depending on what kind of panelboard it is and what type of breaker the hole left could be large enough to stick your hand in.

Wrong Solution

I have been witness over the years to some very imaginative methods of covering these holes. These have included electrical tape, duct tape, cardboard and combinations of each. None of these are remotely acceptable. You need an appropriate, inexpensive, filler plate specifically made for that panel.

Knock Outs

Look for other unused openings on the sides, top and bottom of all electrical panels as well. Sometime unused round holes, called knockouts, are not covered. You can also purchase what are known as knock out plugs or knock out seals to easily cover these
holes. Again, duct tape is not the answer.

Keep Panels Clean

Another reason you need to cover unused openings is that it keeps the interior of the electrical equipment from being exposed to the dirt, dust and other contaminates you may have at your facility. Allowing the interior of a circuit breaker panel to become dirty could cause additional safety issues.


Unused and uncovered openings expose your employees and contractor employees to unnecessary electrical hazards. This hazard can be identified with a little effort and help from your maintenance staff. Finally, these can be resolved very easily and with little cost. I encourage you to take the steps to survey your facility, and if you find these exposures get them corrected as soon as possible.

Link To Related OSHA Regulation

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