Completing Circuits With Your Body: The One Hand Rule

By: Dusty Arlia
Published on January 22, 2012
Last Updated on Monday, July 06, 2015 at 2:09 PM
Total Updates: 5

When you're doing electrical work it is important to always be conscious about what you are touching. Your body is conductive and electricity will run through you if you're not careful. Electricians will follow the one hand rule when possible.

This rule simply states that when working on a circuit, use just one hand when possible. The other hand should not be touching anything. If you are wearing rubber soled shoes and not leaning on anything, than your body isn't completing a circuit. If you were to take your free hand and touch something that is grounded, than electricity could flow through your body.

What makes this situation even worse is that because current comes into your body in one hand and out the other, electricity is flowing through your chest. This is very dangerous having this current go through your heart. Shocking your hand can be very painful and damaging, but is not really lethal. When the current flows through your heart is when this electrical shock becomes life threatening.

Use the one hand rule when possible and when you need a second hand, don't ground yourself. Always be careful about what your body is touching. Stay dry, stand on a dry floor (wooden board or rubber mat if possible), use rubber or plastic handled tools and take off your jewelry. When working wear rubber gloves, rubber soled shoes and safety glasses. Lastly, turn off power to circuits when possible. View our bulleted list of electrical safety tips.