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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Hazards and Risk

Hazards and risks are two terms that we all have to understand. It’s not necessarily just something for the electrical worker. Hazards are all around us and we all accept some level of risk each and every day but many use these terms without really understanding them. This article will help identify the differences between hazards and risks and provide some insight to how NFPA 70E looks at these two terms.

Recognizing Hazards - Continuing the Journey

Some may argue that an important attribute of a qualified individual in the electrical industry is the ability to recognize electrical hazards. An electrical hazard is a dangerous condition that could result in electric shock, arc flash burn, thermal burn, or arc blast injury. The first step to success is to understand what electrical hazards are and then to realize that not all electrical equipment or applications are the same. The journey to recognizing electrical hazards is not necessarily straight forward but there are some basic concepts that once understood can make a difference in success.

The Single-Line Diagram: Important for Safety

The single-line diagram (SLD) is an essential tool for the electrical professional that all too often gets overlooked at the end of the project. Budgets get spent on many things and it may be easy for someone, who doesn’t understand the importance of this document for electrical safety, to put off updating the single-line diagrams. This could be an opportunity for the electrical contractor to own and maintain this valuable resource. The challenge is conveying the value proposition to the right people to ensure the money is in the budget to fund the maintenance of this document. Let’s take time here to help build the safety case for supporting the single-line diagram.

Mantenimiento para Longevidad y Seguridad

El mantenimiento es una parte de nuestras vidas de una u otra manera, importante tanto para la longevidad, como la seguridad...

Maintenance for Longevity and Safety

Maintenance is a part of each of our lives in one manner or another, important for both longevity and safety. We invest in vehicle maintenance not only to ensure it lasts but also to be sure key components, like brakes, work when we need them. The electrical distribution system is a system that should receive the same level of attention that many things do in our lives, but unfortunately it doesn’t receive the attention important to ensure performance over the life of the facility it serves. We can’t take a set-it and forget-it mentality and expect these systems to last forever. This realization is the beginning of your journey to a long-lasting, well performing system that will pay dividends.

I Got an App for That ...

More and more these days the answer to my questions seem to always involve the statement, “I got an app for that.” Once we go down this road, we spend 20 minutes or so looking at each other’s phones so I can download a new cool app. Somewhere in there I get the answer to my question. The plus is that I have a cool new app. Somewhere in the back of my mind though I have to question how dependent we are on “apps” and whether or not that is a good thing. Have these digital tools replaced a basic level of knowledge that we need in our profession to get work done? I wonder how this impacts safety in either a positive or negative way.

Can We Overdo Safety?

Too much of anything is usually not good for you, but can we say that when it comes to safety. I have seen individuals struggle with this and some never consider the question at all as they plowed full steam ahead. I believe it deserves a look; and in my opinion, we all have to understand the risks associated with too little a focus and the risks associated with too much of a focus on this thing we call safety.

In the Zone of Protection

Arc flash continues to receive attention in our industry with both codes and standards requirements complemented by a decent assembly of technologies that help to reduce the amount of energy available in the electrical distribution system. When employing incident energy technologies, we must understand what is and is not provided with regard to incident energy reduction, ensuring those who must perform energized work understand the abilities of these technologies. Let’s explore a few of these technologies to better understand what is and is not provided for the worker.

The Single-Line Diagram and Safety

The single-line diagram to the electrical professional is comparable to what a map is to a person driving across the country. If this was “back in the day,” I’d say that before I go on a journey somewhere in the car I grab my Atlas and appropriate maps. Today, I use my smartphone and my “Maps” app.

Focus on Your Customer With an Eye on Safety

Customer wants and needs all too often get forgotten as we get too obsessed with meeting National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements. We need to be as obsessed about meeting our customer wants and needs as we are with meeting what, in reality, is a bare minimum for electrical safety. It may shock you to learn that a system designed to meet the minimum requirements of the NEC may not be adequate for the application. This article will discuss a few key areas where your design may need to exceed the bare minimum requirements of the NEC.

Marina Safety

Another swimming season is upon us, and so I must dive again in to a discussion of marina safety. As electrical professionals, we are in a position to help make marinas a safe place to work and play. Marinas can be quite a dangerous place when it comes to electrical hazards. Let's break the ice with some thought-stimulating information that you can build on during your next marina project.

Drilling for Safety

Running drills serves as an important learning tool in many forums and should be considered to be included as part of your safety plan. I’m sure each of us has experienced a drill in one form or another, whether it be on a ball field or as part of a fire alarm drill at work or at school. The process of sounding an alarm and walking through the motions that must occur to demonstrate a preparedness should a real emergency occur is important. Both the act itself and the analysis after the event can serve to raise awareness of opportunities for improvement and recognition of successes. There is much that can be said about the phrase “practice makes perfect;” our challenge is to understand how we can leverage this more effectively with regard to safety.

Terminations - Devil's in the Details

Terminating conductors may seem to be a menial task, but make no mistake – it is important. Mistakes here could cause hours of troubleshooting or other types of problems after continued hours of use and aging of the installation. NEC 2017 has recognized the importance of this task as well. Let’s explore this topic further and shed some light on what many think can be left to the most inexperienced on the job. I think you may see that this task deserves closer attention.

NEC and Worker Safety Nov/Dec 16

The National Electrical Code (NEC) is a document that seeks the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity. We all too often forget about how important the NEC is to those working on, in, or around electrical equipment. Some State Code adoption hearings include discussions of delaying adoption of the NEC due to cost of the provisions within these requirements or even the cost of buying new books and conducting training. The most disappointing experiences in my book are the discussions that never happen as states drag their feet and take a casual approach to NEC adoption; yet another way to indirectly achieve a delayed adoption of requirements that are there to save lives and property.

Test Before Touch

Think back in time to when you had that “aha” moment and began a statement with those two, sometimes embarrassing, words, “I thought.” Maybe you thought the door was locked and it wasn’t. Maybe you thought the car was in “Park” or in “Reverse.” Some of life’s most embarrassing moments begin with those two words “I thought.” When working in and around electricity, those “gotcha” moments can be avoided if we understand what it means to test before touch.

Fingers - Mind Your Digits

Our hands and fingers are some of our greatest assets, which is why giving them the attention they deserve is important for a host of reasons. We use our hands and fingers to do many things on a daily basis. They pull wire, make terminations, steer vehicles, create wonderful works of art, shape and form metal and wood, and they make the impossible possible. Unfortunately, many know what it is like to not have these assets at their disposal and understand the challenges that presents.

Maintenance - Important for Safety

Electrical distribution systems serve us on a daily basis, regardless of if we are sitting in our home, driving down the road, or at work. This important infrastructure must be maintained, if not for longevity sake, then for safety sake.

End in Mind - Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Keep your eye on the ball. You may have heard your coach tell you that over and over until you realized that’s just what you needed to do in order to succeed. In business, the message is the same, and it doesn’t change when it comes to electrical safety. In order to keep our eye on the ball, we need a clear understanding of what that ball is. When it all comes together, our designs, plans, and actions ensure we achieve our goals.

Review Your Safety Plan

The beginning of a new year is a great time to refresh your focus on safety. Take this time to brush off your safety plan and get your head back in the game. Triggers are useful ways to initiate good practices. We use triggers for many safety related tasks; one good example is the replacement of batteries in smoke detectors when we change the clocks each year. As you take this opportunity to initiate a focus on safety, here is a list of items that you can use to stir discussion with your team on this topic.

Service Entrance and Short Circuit Currents

Service entrance equipment can present unique challenges when it comes to proper application of electrical equipment. The service point is the point of demarcation between utility and premise wiring. Our discussion today will springboard off of a previous article that focused on calculating short-circuit currents. Let’s focus on the proper application of the equipment at the service entrance location in the power distribution system. We’ll reference the National Electric Code® (NEC) but with an understanding that this is also the point of demarcation between the National Electrical Safety Code® (NESC) and the NEC. Regardless of the code jurisdiction under which the application falls, when you drop back to the basics of electrical principles, we gain an understanding to help in the proper application of electrical equipment at this and any other location in the power distribution system. Attention to detail is warranted for safety.

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