Regulations, Codes & Standards Q&A: Power Strips

By Brad Keyes / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
September 16, 2020

Q: In regards to the approved power strips, UL60601-1 and UL1363A, what is the determining factor on which model should be used? We are attempting to standardize our supply chain so that only one type is available for purchase and distribution. Our intent is also to perform a mass replacement throughout our hospital. I understand that the UL1363A must be mounted and integrated into an assembly, but can the UL60601-1 also be used for assemblies AND stand-alone medical equipment?

A: According to CMS K-Tag 920, there is no determining factor as to when you use UL 1363A or UL 60601-1 power strips. You may use either UL type on mobile patient care related electrical equipment located within a patient care vicinity (within 6-feet of a bed, table or treatment device). I have been told that UL 1363A type power strips are more available than UL 60601-1 power strips.

 You cannot have only one type of power strip available for purchase and distribution throughout your healthcare facility. According to CMS K-Tag 920, these are the limitations on the UL type of power strips depending where the equipment is utilized:

  • Inside the patient care vicinity (the space 6-feet within the normal location of a bed, chair, table, treadmill, or other device that supports the patient during examination and treatment and extending 7-feet 6-inches above the floor) power strips may only be used on movable patient care related electrical equipment and are limited to only UL 1363A or UL 60601-1 type. Power strips are not permitted to be used within the patient care vicinity on any other piece of equipment, with the exception of long-term care resident rooms that do not use patient care related electrical equipment.
  • Outside of the patient care vicinity, but still in the patient care rooms only UL 1363 type power strips are permitted.
  • In non-patient care rooms, power strips must meet other UL standards.

CMS continues in K-Tag 920 by saying extension cords (including power strips) are permitted to be used for temporary applications but may not be used in lieu of fixed wiring of a structure. 

So, for new purchases of power strips, you should limit them to two UL types:

  • UL 1363A for inside patient care vicinities;
  • UL 1363 for outside patient care vicinities.

 Existing UL listed power strips that are not UL 1363A or UL 1363 are permitted outside of patient care rooms, but be careful with these:

  • Do not apply sticky-tape on the backs of the power strips that cover up the UL label, thereby making it impossible to determine if the power strip is UL listed;
  • Do not allow the use of power strips as a substitute for fixed wiring.
  • Do not plug one power strip into another power strip.

Brad Keyes, CHSP, is the owner of KEYES Life Safety Compliance, and his expertise is in the management of the Life Safety Program, including the Environment of Care and Emergency Management programs.

 

 

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