PERSONNEL GROUNDFAULT PROTECTION FOR ALL TEMPORARY WIRING

Because of the nature of construction sites, there is a continual presence of shock hazard that can lead to serious personal injury or death through electrocution. Workers are standing in water, standing on damp or wet ground, or in contact with steel framing members.

Electric cords and cables are lying on the ground, subject to severe mechanical abuse. All of these conditions spell danger. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15-, 20-, and 30-ampere receptacle outlets that are not part of the permanent wiring of the building and that will be used by the workers on the construction site must be GFCI protected, 590.6(A)(1).

All 125-volt, single-phase, 15-, 20-, and 30-ampere receptacle outlets that are part of the actual permanent wiring of a building and are used by personnel for temporary power are also required to be GFCI protected NEC 590.6A)(2).

Receptacles on 15-kW or less Portable Generators. All 125-volt and 125/250-volt, singlephase, 15-, 20-, and 30-ampere receptacle outlets that are a part of a 15-kW or smaller portable generator shall have listed ground-fault circuit interrupter protection for personnel.

All 15- and 20-ampere, 125- and 250-volt receptacles, including those that are part of a portable generator,
used in a damp or wet location shall comply with 406.9(A) and (B). Listed cord sets or devices incorporating listed ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel identified for portable use shall be permitted for use with 15-kW or less portable generators manufactured or remanufactured prior to January 1, 2011.

It should be clear to all users of the NEC that the Code Panel responsible for this article is serious about ensuring that people who use electrical power on construction sites have GFCI protection. For receptacles other than 125-volt, single phase, 15-, 20-, and 30-ampere receptacles, there are two options for providing personnel protection.

In 590.6(B)(1), GFCI protection is one of the choices. In 590.6(B)(2), a written Assured Equipment Grounding Conductor Program is the second choice. This program shall be continuously enforced on the construction site. A designated person must keep a written log, ensuring that all electrical equipment is properly installed and maintained according to the applicable requirements of 250.114, 250.138, 406.3(C), and 590.4(D).

Because this option is difficult to enforce, many Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) require GFCI protection as stated in 590.6(B)(1). Most electricians and other construction site workers carry their own listed portable ground fault circuit-interrupter cord sets to be sure they are protected against shock hazard.


Portable GFCI devices are easy to carry around. They have “open neutral” protection should the neutral conductor in the circuit supplying the GFCI open for whatever reason. Portable GFCI devices are available with manual reset, which is advantageous should a power outage occur or if the GFCI is unplugged, so that equipment (drills, saws, etc.) will not start up again when the power is restored.

This could cause injury to anyone using the equipment when the power is restored. Portable devices are also available that reset automatically. These should be used on lighting, engine heaters, water (sump) pumps, and similar equipment where it would be advantageous to have the equipment start up as soon as power is restored.

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