Chapter Corner

Newsroom & Insights: Safety Corner

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Developing an Effective SCCR Plan

One of the most fundamental calculations made on a power distribution system is that which yields available short-circuit current. Maximum available short-circuit current is an important parameter for every power distribution system as it provides a data point necessary to ensure equipment is being applied within its rating and the system is performing to meet expectations. Available short-circuit current is used in many other applications as well. The National Electrical Code demands this data point for enforcement of such Sections as 110.9 “Interrupting Rating,” 110.10 “Circuit Impedance, Short-Circuit Current Ratings, and other Characteristics,” and 10.24 “Available Fault Current.” Today we will discuss the development of an effective short-circuit current rating (SCCR) plan. Having a good plan in place can help increase electrical safety.

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HVAC: Not Just Your Average Load

The topic of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) presents a target-richenvironment with regard to the topic of safety. As installers, we may only be concerned with the tools, personal protective equipment, liquids and chemicals, and electrical hazards from a safety perspective. We have to also consider that HVAC equipment could play an important role throughout its life for the contents (including people and goods) of the structure or area it serves. The fact that HVAC systems account for 39 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings in the United States means that we probably see a lot of these types of applications.

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Short Circuit Current Ratings

Overcurrent protective device interrupting ratings (IR) and equipment short-circuit current ratings (SCCR) are key considerations for the safety of commercial and industrial electrical systems. Inadequate overcurrent protective device IR or equipment SCCR can create a serious safety hazard. The National Electrical Code (NEC®) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have requirements around these important ratings and have resulted in changes to equipment designs and specifications.

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After the Fire

If you haven’t been made aware of the fact that electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely hazardous if re-energized without proper reconditioning or replacement, then you just may also be surprised to hear that a similar message is applicable to electrical equipment exposed to the smoke/soot that may result from burning materials during and after a structure fire. One could argue that a structure fire not only creates an environment that is hazardous to the health of the occupants and first responders, it also has the ability to create a hazardous location caustic to electrical equipment.

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Personal Protective Equipment

More than likely the old cliché of “Dress for Success” is a familiar phrase but one could argue that it takes on an entire new meaning when used in reference to an electrical worker. Appropriate dress can make a difference for electrical workers. Professionals working with electricity, including installers and inspectors, need to understand that appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job is important if not critical to a better chance of a trip home and not to some other less desirable destination. It also just happens to be something OSHA finds very important. Personal protective equipment is not just something you buy and put on like other clothing, this equipment is life safety related and should be handled, treated, and understood as such.

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