Flexible Wiring

Last updated: November 9, 2020

What Does Flexible Wiring Mean?

Flexible wiring is a specific type of electrical wiring that describes a flexible electrical cable or cord that is made up of multiple thin wires that have been twisted or bunched together. When the individual wires have a cross-section of less than 4.28 mm2 in diameter they are collectively referred to as a flexible cord, when the cross section of the wires is greater than that they are collectively referred to as a flexible cable.

Flexible wiring is convenient, but less durable than other types of wiring. Tools and equipment that use flexible wiring should only be used if they will not be subjected to significant physical stress.

Safeopedia Explains Flexible Wiring

The use of flexible wiring is most common in wires that are connected to household appliances. The flexibility offered by this type of wiring is convenient, and when used in a household setting, the likelihood that the wiring will be subjected to the stressors necessary to damage the wiring is relatively limited.

The small filament size of flexible wiring means that it’s not very durable, and is more likely to be damaged than other types of wiring. The use of flexible wiring in situations where the wiring is likely to be subjected to significant physical stress, such as in industrial settings, may result in damage to the wire that could result in potential electrical hazards. Due to this risk, the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) and other occupational safety agencies prohibit the use of flexible wiring in a variety of settings.

OSHA standard 1910.305, which lays out the rules for when flexible wiring is permissible when used in a general industry context, specifically prohibits the use of flexible wiring in a wide variety of situations. These include all instances in which the wiring is concealed behind a building structure, attached to a building surface, or run through a doorway, window, or hole in the building. It is also unacceptable to use flexible wiring as part of a building’s permanent wiring.

OSHA also maintains separate rules (standard 1926.405) for the use of flexible wiring in construction settings. These rules require all flexible wiring used in construction sites to be rated for “hard” or “extra-hard” usage in order to minimize risk that the cable will be damaged. Cords and cables made with flexible wiring must also not be subjected to strain (e.g., stretched) or put into a situation that could damage their insulating material.


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