Electrical Safety and NEC Compliance: A Roundtable Discussion
Electrical safety continues to dominate industry conversations as professionals across the country seek opportunities to improve their understanding of current safety trends and brush up on best practices for ensuring safety in both the products they purchase and their installation. For this reason, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) has named May National Electrical Safety Month, and professionals around the industry are taking the opportunity to focus attention on the critical importance of safety.
This year’s National Electrical Safety Month theme is “Understanding the Code That Keeps Us Safe,” focusing on the importance of the National Electrical Code (NEC) and its three-year cycle. Recently, we asked a panel of experts from global power management company Eaton to weigh in with their unique perspectives on the most pressing issues around code compliance and its impact on electrical safety in 2018.
Participants in the panel include:
- Thomas Domitrovich, P.E., LEED AP – Vice President, Technical Sales, Bussmann Division
- Kevin Lippert – Manager, Codes & Standards
- Amber Wright, P.E. – Engineer, Eaton Experience Center - Houston
- Dan Carnovale, P.E. – Manager, Eaton Experience Center - Pittsburgh
- Eddie Wilkie – Director of Engineering, Power Distribution and Control Division
What’s the biggest trend you’re seeing regarding NEC compliance and safety in 2018?
Domitrovich: The adoption of the NEC continues to be a struggle across the country as states and other local jurisdictions review and adopt the NEC’s requirements into law. We continue the work to combat amendments to these requirements and those jurisdictions that seek delayed adoption of the NEC beyond the normal 3-year cycle – as well as those locations that refuse to adopt or enforce the NEC at all. The NEC includes many important requirements, the most basic of which is the application of a solution within its listing/ratings. Some requirements can be quite complicated. At a bare minimum, the industry needs to educate all involved around the requirements included in the NEC and its place in the overall safety picture. This includes inspectors, installers, manufacturers, and engineers. We all play a role in ensuring safety, and it’s up to each person engaged with a project to understand and apply the requirements.
Lippert: The NEC requirements are composed by volunteer members who represent all aspects of the electrical community: labor, manufacturers, users, academia, and others. The process is very well defined and organized by National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) to ensure a balance of representation. The NFPA process is open and allows anyone to submit changes with every suggestion given consideration. Even though this process is conducted on a national level to cover all NEC requirements, each state (and sometimes even local jurisdictions) has their own process for NEC adoption. Many times these local adoptions take exceptions to the NEC, creating various requirements depending upon locale. It would be great if the NEC were adopted without amendment and in a timely manner by all.
Wright: For most organizations, safety has become a greater part of on-the-job training, and the NEC is positioned as one of several tools available to enhance the learning process. As the knowledge gap grows between generations, reliance on codes and guidelines inherently helps to fill those gaps a fact that tends to carry greater value when formal awareness of compliance is taught as one element of holistic safety education.
Carnovale: We’re seeing more companies take a strong stance on safety and enforce compliance by requiring knowledge of what is needed for both NEC and OSHA guidelines. Safety is a priority and an essential cost of doing business, a