Chapter Corner

Thomas Domitrovich

Thomas Domitrovich, P.E., is a National Application Engineer with IEC Platinum Partner Eaton Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has more than 20 years of experience as an Electrical Engineer and is a LEED Accredited Professional. Domitrovich is active in various trade organizations on various levels with IEC, International Association of Electrical Inspectors, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). He is involved with and chairs various committees for NEMA and IEEE and is an alternate member on NFPA 73. He is very active in the state-by-state adoption process of NFPA 70, working closely with review committees and other key organizations.

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Hands on for Safety

We live and work in an electrical industry that can be dangerous at times. We all must continue to sharpen our skills through continuous education. This education does not come from a one-size-fits-all,off-the-shelf training program. There are many approaches to training and the best program is that which meets your needs and yields results. Results come in a safer work environment and dollars to the bottom line. Electrical safety is more than just applying a product or sitting through a training class; it’s a regiment of training and procedures implemented in combination with technology that saves lives. Working smarter, utilizing what you learn and the tools available on the job, is a good way to begin to work safer.

Water vs. Electricity: Important Considerations for Safety

Water at the right place at the right time sustains life; water at the wrong place and the wrong time can become a nightmare. We need water to survive, but on the other hand, water can be quite dangerous and create unsafe conditions especially where electricity is involved. An important part of any design addresses and manages water. Builders work to ensure water does not intrude into the structure and their fight rages on many fronts; some are as obvious as dealing with rainwater through proper roof structures and a gutter system that removes the rainwater from the structure. Other less obvious fronts include preventing water intrusion from ground springs. Managing the elements of nature is important for safety as water intrusion can cause mold, rust, and other similar types of degradation that also may not be received well by electrical equipment. Mixing water and electrical equipment can have devastating results for safety. It’s worth a probe on this topic to get you and your team in the game and ensure safety is not compromised on your next project.

Electrical Fire Prevention - Section 210.12 of the NEC

The story of the arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) is an interesting one as it is technical in nature, wrapped in controversy, fueled by passion, and delivers a positive electrical safety impact to the electrical industry. The 2014 National Electrical Code® (NEC) again modified Section 210.12, expanding AFCI coverage and providing more options. When you open your code book to Section 210.12 this year, don’t let the size of the section intimidate you. It’s not all that big of a change.

Available Fault Current

Available fault current is an important parameter to consider when reviewing a new or even an existing installation of electrical equipment. When standing in front of a line up of switchgear, panelboards, or switchboards, you may be amazed at how many labels you see. These labels are there for a reason. They can be very helpful if you just take the time to understand them. A label that includes the available fault current just may be one of those labels, as it is a requirement of National Electric Code (NEC) Section 110.24, "Available Fault Current." Let's review this section and a few other associated sections to understand this requirement and the various ways it impacts safety.

Working In Pairs: The Buddy System

Batman had Robin, the Lone Ranger had Tonto, Captain America had Bucky, and Starsky had Hutch; the list goes on of dynamic duos who achieved a lot working together. There is a lot to be learned from those who work in teams to achieve their goals. Working with a partner is good for many different reasons, and safety happens to be a very important one. If safety is a part of your goals, working in pairs may be a way to help you achieve it. Let’s focus on the buddy system and how it can help improve safety on the job.

Emergency Egress

Should a situation arise that leaves you looking for an exit out of harm’s way, your egress path must be secure and clear, and the egress door must function and lead to safety. When performing electrical work, or any type of work for that matter, an effective means of egress can mean the difference between life and death. This appears to be a seemingly simple topic of emergency egress, but one that should not be assumed. Let’s review this topic and uncover topics for you and your team to consider when planning your next electrical project.

Sustainable Products

You are designing a structure with sustainability in mind, and you want the products you are installing to be “green” and possibly help you get points, in the case of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-type structure. You may find that it is challenging to know if the product you are deciding to buy is indeed a sustainable product and determining if it is your best “green” choice. Unfortunately the sustainable product market can be pretty scary and quite fragmented. Some products make claims of being green with nothing to back those claims up, and others have a pedigree a mile long that is just plain confusing. There is no doubt about it; you have a challenge on your hands when selecting green products. This article will attempt to break the ice and provide guidance to help navigate your way through the green fields of products. Some background and tips may be quite helpful during your next project.

Confined Spaces

The electrical trade presents many hazards to the electrical contractor who must at times work on energized equipment, on roofs, or on busy job sites. Being lowered down into vault or walking into some other confined space where work must be performed adds yet another dynamic to the job and other existing hazards that requires special skills. Confined spaces are challenging on many fronts. Let's walk through some things you may want to consider and review available tools that can help in the preparation for work in confined spaces. Identifying and labeling confined spaces, instituting and maintaining onsite emergency response plans, and providing training for workers and supervisors can save lives. Let's explore more on this topic together.

Reducing Risk: Prevention and Mitigation

We accept a level of risk in our daily lives in everything we do; the act of driving to work is a good example. The object is to reduce the risks of our actions, or inactions; reduce the potential that your action, your activity, or lack thereof will lead to an undesirable outcome. There are many ways to reduce the risks associated with the work you perform – it takes teamwork to make this happen. Your success can help take a bite out of the growing statistics of injuries and deaths in our electrical industry.

The Terminator

Making terminations should be high on the list of good examples for the meaning behind the statement "the devil is in the details.” This task may seem simple but mistakes here could cause hours of troubleshooting or other types of problems after continued hours of use and aging of the installation. Let’s explore, from a high level, what you must concern yourself with when terminating conductors. I think you may see that this task, which quite often is left to the most inexperienced on the job, may need closer attention.

STRESS: More than Just Structural

As an electrical professional, we are no different than many others when it comes to stress; we deal with deadlines, commitments, financials, and other tasks associated with managing the business. and other tasks associated with managing the business. Stress is our body’s normal reaction to events that pull us in different directions. The effect of stress in our daily lives is sometimes quite visible but then again often it is not. Stress can be healthy but just like anything, too much can be unhealthy. Your mood, productivity, concentration, and general over-all health concerns are just a few negative results for someone under a lot of stress. For the electrical professional, stress has other possible safety impacts as things may become more complicated, especially for those who may find themselves working in and around energized equipment.

Multi-Wire Branch Circuits

When the 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC) introduced 210.4(B) entitled "Disconnecting Means," this new requirement for multi-wire branch circuits drove many questions related to the application of handle ties in the industry. This requirement has also driven more use of field applied handle ties. The application of handle ties on two one-pole circuit breakers must be performed correctly as the lack of attention to details could cause you to apply the product outside of its rating. Two one-pole circuit breakers can be tied together with an approved handle tie but you must pay close attention to the markings and listing of the products to ensure that the breakers are not applied outside of their rating.

Preventing Electrocutions

Recognizing electrocution hazards can be difficult in job sites and especially in areas/facilities that have experience storm damage. An electrocution is the result of coming in contact with a lethal amount of current. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are really a last line of defense to protect personnel. There are many ways to stay safe.

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