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Identifying and Controlling Common Electrical Hazards

A fire to your building can be a major loss to your religious organization. In an attempt to prevent a fire loss in your organization, one of the easiest precautions your church can take is ensure you are adequately identifying and controlling electrical hazards. The following list identifies common electrical hazards found in churches today and how to control them.

Missing Covers

All junction boxes, switches and outlets should have proper covers installed in order to prevent arc flash and electrocution hazards. Without any covering over these electrical items, dust, dirt and debris are allowed into the interior of the enclosure. Additionally, missing covers could allow metallic objects to fall into the circuits that could arc or lodge in a way that presents a hazard when the enclosure is opened.

Broken or Unsupported Light Fixtures

Ensure that there are no signs of damage to light fixtures and that they are permanently mounted to their base. If light fixtures are hanging unsupported by wiring, there becomes a risk of an electrical short, which could produce sparks that can ignite combustibles.

Circuit Breakers

These protective devices are designed to protect the circuit and equipment when it becomes overloaded. Be sure your organization is following necessary safety precautions to prevent an electrical fire or damage associated with circuit breakers, such as:

  • Equip all electrical breaker panels with an appropriate cover and keep it closed;
  • Replace any missing breakers and other openings between breakers with plastic spacers that snap into the electrical panel;
  • Ensure breakers are never taped or physically secured in the “ON” position; and
  • Index the electrical panel to identify each individual circuit breaker.


Ensure electrical equipment storage areas are organized in a manner that will reduce the likelihood of items being ignited after an arc flash. This includes:

  • Limiting access to electrical rooms to authorized maintenance or operations personnel;
  • Keeping electrical equipment areas dry and protected from moisture;
  • Keeping electrical equipment areas clean and protected from dust and dirt; and
  • Placing storage items at least 36 inches from electrical panels and equipment to ensure proper air circulation and cooling.

Controlling each of these items in your building requires little time and effort. By taking time each month to review the common hazards in your building, fire prevention measures will become routine to your organization. For more information on these hazards, review the Electrical: Common Hazards fact sheet on SafeChurch.

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.