Standards Matter

Standards for Hair Dryers Put Safety Measures in Place to Prevent Electrocution

June 17, 2021

Woman using an electric hair dryer to blow dry her hair in the bathroom mirror

Why it matters

Because they are commonly used in restrooms near bathtubs and water basins, electric grooming appliances present a serious electrocution risk. Since 1975, The National Electric Code (NEC) has required the installation of ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCIs) in new or renovated bathrooms, which has contributed to a 95% reduction in electrocutions caused by consumer products.1

Older homes, however, may not have had GFCI outlets installed yet if they have not been renovated. Because of this possibility, UL 859, the Standard for Household Electric Grooming Appliances, requires hair dryers to be constructed either with an integral GFCI or integral protective device of another type that de-energizes all current-carrying parts in the event the appliance is accidentally immersed in water.

What we're doing

Our Standard, UL 859, requires hair dryers to have an integral GFCI or similar device of that de-energizes all current-carrying parts in the event the appliance is accidentally immersed in water. Since the requirement was introduced in 1987, the rate of deaths associated with hair dryers has significantly decreased, with 91 deaths recorded in the seven-year period between 1984 and 1990, and only one death recorded between 1998 and 2004.2

How you can help

Our Standards are developed through a consensus-based process, which integrates scientific and testing expertise with input from our Standards Technical Panel (STP) members and stakeholders. STP members represent a variety of interests, including industry, academia, government, retail and manufacturing. If you are involved in the design, manufacturing, sale or use of household electric grooming appliances, and you would like to help improve safety in your industry, please submit a proposal or apply to join an STP.