AUTHOR: Derek Vigstol

Determining Current Carrying Capacity of Conductors

The purpose of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®) is the practical safeguarding of persons and property from the hazards that arise due to the use of electricity. Typically, this means protecting people from hazards like shock and arc flash, as well as property from fire. Fires resulting from improper wiring have historically been a significant threat ever since electrical systems have been installed within buildings. The NEC has established a long history of installation requirements to help prevent fires from occurring within the electrical system. One such requirement is to determine how much electrical current a conductor can carry continuously without exceeding the temperature rating of its insulation, or as the NEC refers to it, a conductor’s ampacity. However, determining ampacity requires the understanding of a number of other factors that come into play based on how a conductor is used and installed. This involves navigating charts, tables, and a number of other requirements to make sure that we calculate the correct ampacity. Depending on which conditions of installation and use exist, we find ourselves using a number of tables found throughout the NEC, but in particular, many of them are located in Article 310. There are a multitude of tables that spell out items such as conductor ampacity, temperature correction factors, and adjustment factors. So, let’s take a look at how these ampacity charts and tables can be used to ensure we select the appropriate conductor for the installation. There are a few questions we must ask ourselves before we begin. First, we need to know what the conductor insulation is rated for since ampacity is a function of the temperature rating of the insulation. Once we have established if we are using 60-, 75-, or 90-degree Celsius rated insulation, we can determine which column from the appropriate ampacity chart we need to be in. For conductors rated up to 2000V, ampacities can be found in Tables 310.16 through 310.21 based on how they are installed and other specific installation criteria. For the purpose of this blog, we will be using Table 310.16 for conductors installed in a raceway or cable with not more than 3 current carrying conductors total and in an ambient temperature of 30⁰C (86⁰F). These parameters are important to know since any deviation will necessitate a modification of the ampacity value in the tables. Once we know the insulation temperature rating, we can then find the corresponding ampacity in the appropriate column of Table 310.16 for the given conductor size (Note: certain types of insulation carry multiple ratings based on the location type, see Table 310.4 for conductor properties). After we have the ampacity value from Table 310.16, then we can apply adjustment and correction factors, if needed. Let’s start off with adjustment factors. First ask, are there more than three current carrying conductors in the raceway or cable, or are multiple cables installed without maintaining spacing for a distance greater than 24 inches? This count applies to total number of ungrounded (hot) conductors, even spares, and grounded (neutral) conductors on a 3 phase, 4-wire WYE system where: the circuit is single phase or, if the major part of the load consists of nonlinear loads [see 310.15(E)]. If the total current carrying conductor count exceeds three, then the ampacity from Table 310.16 must be adjusted in accordance with Table 310.15(C)(1) based on the total number of current carrying conductors. Next, we must look at the ambient temperature of where the conductor will be installed. If the ambient is anything other than what the starting ampacity is in Table 310.16, then we will find temperature correction factors in 310.15 based on deviations from the original chart’s ambient temperature. There are two temperature correction tables: Table 310.15(B)(1) for tables that are based on an ambient temperature of 30⁰C (86⁰F). Table 310.15(B)(2) for tables that are based on an ambient temperature of 40⁰C (104⁰F).     Because this blog is written based on Table 310.16, multipliers for temperature correction from Table 310.15(B)(1) should be used, since both charts are based on 30⁰C (86⁰F) ambient temperature. Table 310.15(B)(1) is also divided up by the temperature rating of the conductor insulation. Having already established this, simply find the corresponding multiplier based on the actual ambient temperature of the installation. Once all necessary adjustment and correction factors have been applied, there is still one more component that affects the ability of the conductors to safely carry electrical current continuously without exceeding the temperature rating of the insulation. This final factor is the termination of the conductor to any equipment. Termination points can be a limiting factor as these are common points on the electrical system for heat build up and rely on the conductor material to act as a heat sink to dissipate any build up of heat where the termination is made. For these requirements, we must consult section 110.14(C) for termination temperature limitations. These requirements help us determine the final current carrying capacity of our conductors so that they can safely handle the circuit current without damage to the insulation from excess heat. Section 110.14(C)(1) is split up into two scenarios. The first group is for circuits 100 amps or less or that are marked for the termination of conductor sizes 14 AWG through 1 AWG. The second group is for circuits with above 100 amps or terminations marked for larger than 1 AWG. The requirements for the first group limit the conductor use to conductors with a 60⁰C insulation rating or if conductors with a higher temperature rating are used, the final adjusted ampacity must not exceed that found in the 60⁰C column for the same size conductor, unless the terminations are also rated for a higher temperature in which case the final ampacity shall not exceed the value in the corresponding column. For the second group, above 100A or 1 AWG, the rules simplify a bit. The conductors must be rated for 75⁰C or higher and if the conductor is rated for higher than 75⁰C, the final ampacity must not exceed the corresponding ampacity in the 75⁰C column unless the terminations are identified as being rated for such higher temperatures. When we follow these requirements, the conductors that we install will be less likely to overheat and become a hazard, provided that the conditions of use remain the same. We’ve developed a free flow chart on this topic, including the tables mentioned above, to help you in your next installation. Be sure to download it here.   
Electrician in a truck

Understanding Our Electrical World: 8 Items that Form the Grounding Electrode System

NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®) has many areas of interest that keep the technical staff at NFPA on their toes. One of the areas that always seems to get a lot of questions through NFPA’s Technical Questions Service, available to members and AHJs, has to do with the electrical system grounding. Questions range from how to size the various grounding conductors and bonding jumpers to what can be used to connect the system to earth. Before we jump into figuring out how big the wire needs to be for the grounding electrode conductor, it is critical that we understand exactly how we will be connecting our electrical system to the ground and why. First, we need to understand a few terms that are used within the NEC when it comes to grounding and bonding so that we can fully understand the intent of what is required. When we hear the term “grounded electrical system,” what does that even mean? Well, since the NEC defines “ground” as the earth and “grounded” as being connected to ground, or a conductive object that extends the ground connection, to have a grounded system means that you have an electrical system that is connected to the earth. Other terms that we must familiarize ourselves with is grounding electrode and the grounding electrode system. Basically, a grounding electrode is a conductive object that establishes a direct connection to the earth or ground. The important part is that a grounding electrode has direct contact with ground. There are lots of conductive objects within a structure, however, not all of them establish a direct connection to ground. This is where the grounding electrode system begins to take shape. The NEC contains a list of items that are permitted to be used as grounding electrodes and requires that if any are present, they must be used to form the grounding electrode system. There are 8 items that are listed in 250.52 as allowable grounding electrodes, here is the list: Metal Underground Water Pipe Concrete-encased Electrode Metal In-ground Support Structure Ground Ring Rod and Pipe Electrodes Plate Electrodes Other Listed Electrodes Other local underground metal systems or structures   Any of these electrodes that are present in the building or structure, must be bonded together to form the grounding electrode system. There are some qualifying conditions for each item on the list that we will address shortly, but it is important to note that the first three on the list are components of the building itself and the rest are what is sometime referred to as “made electrodes.” In other words, a building will either have the first three or it will not, but 4-8 are items that the installer will put into the ground to establish the grounding electrode system. Let’s take a look at each of the specific items on the list: Metal Underground Water Pipe The metal underground water pipe electrode is often called the “water bond” by many in the field. For a metal underground water pipe to qualify as an electrode, we need to have at least 10 feet in direct contact with Earth. This also needs to be electrically continuous or made electrically continuous to the point of attachment for the grounding electrode conductor or bonding jumper. Metal In-Ground Support Structure The metal in-ground support structure electrode is often referred to as “building steel” but it is important to note that not all steel frames of a building will qualify as this type of electrode. To qualify as a grounding electrode, there needs to be direct contact with the ground or concrete-encasement that has direct contact with the ground. Steel building frames are often bolted down to bolts that are embedded into the concrete foundation and have no physical contact with the Earth itself. For the metal frame of a building to qualify as an electrode, there must be a minimum of 10 feet vertically in contact with the ground, with or without concrete-encasement. If there are numerous metal pilings that meet this qualification, only one needs to be connected to the grounding electrode system. However, there would be nothing to prevent the use of multiple metal in-ground electrodes as part of the building grounding electrode system. Concrete-Encased Electrode The concrete-encased electrode is an electrode that uses a building’s concrete structural components to establish a connection with the Earth. Often referred to as the Ufer ground, this method is very effective in making the connection to Earth. There are two different methods for establishing this electrode. This electrode can be either a minimum of a #4 AWG bare copper conductor or it can be unencapsulated reinforcing steel rods with a minimum diameter of ½ inch. Either method must be a minimum of 20 feet in length and encased within a minimum of 2 inches of concrete that is in direct contact with the Earth. When this electrode consists of reinforcing steel, it is allowed to join multiple shorter sections of rods together through the usual methods but the final assembled length must meet or exceed 20 feet. Again, in buildings with multiple electrodes available, it is permitted to simply use a single electrode in the overall system. Ground Ring Electrode A ground ring electrode is a grounding electrode that completely encircles the building or structure. This consists of a bare copper conductor that is a minimum of a #2 AWG conductor and must be a minimum of 20 feet in length. This type of electrode must be installed and is not a part of the building or structure like the first three electrodes. Rod or Pipe Electrodes Rod and pipe electrodes are another type of electrode that can be installed to build a more robust grounding electrode system or when the building or structure does not contain a component that qualifies as an electrode, such as when the water supply to a home is in PVC and the footings are not in direct contact with Earth. These electrodes must be a minimum of 8 feet long and in contact with the Earth and a minimum of trade size ¾ inch when consisting of pipe or conduit and 5/8 when a rod type electrode. Smaller diameter ground rods can be used when they are listed as grounding electrodes. If corrosive materials, such as steel are used, they must be galvanized or have other measures taken for corrosion protection. Plate Electrodes A grounding connection can also be established through the use of a conductive plate. The plate must expose a minimum of 2 square feet of surface area to contact with Earth. This could be mean that a grounding plate can measure 12 inches by 12 inches since there are 2 sides to the plate in contact with the Earth. For plates made from uncoated iron or steel, the minimum thickness of the plate is ¼ inch to account for corrosion of the plate over time. Non-ferrous metal plates are permitted to have a thickness of just 1.5 millimeters. Other Electrodes Other electrodes are permitted to be used and 250.52 lists two categories that fall under the term “other”. If an electrode of a type not previously mentioned is listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory as being a grounding electrode, the AHJ can permit the use of such an electrode. There are also other local underground metal structures and systems that are permitted to be used such as piping systems, metal well casings not bonded to a metal water line, and underground tanks. However, keep in mind that there are certain systems not permitted to be used as grounding electrodes, such as metal underground gas lines and the equipotential bonding grid required for in-ground pools. The AHJ must make the determination if such an object meets the requirements for a grounding electrode. We must also talk about how these electrodes will be installed in order to form the grounding electrode system. Like stated earlier, metal underground water pipe, metal in-ground support structure, and concrete-encased electrodes are typically either a part of the building and therefore required to be used or they are not present and one of the other installed or “made” electrodes must be used. There is one exception to the general rule that if an electrode exists it must be used and that is for existing buildings. It is not the intent of the NEC to require that the concrete footing be disturbed to expose the reinforcing steel within and connect to it. The exception allows an installer the ability to not use an existing concrete-encased electrode if it would require disturbing the concrete. Rod, pipe, plate, and metal underground water pipe electrodes all require the use of a supplemental grounding electrode. It is important to understand what can be used as a supplemental electrode as well. For instance, a ground rod can be used to supplement a metal underground water pipe however, a metal underground water pipe is not permitted to supplement a ground rod. Yet, 250.53(A) still requires rod, pipe, and plate electrodes to have a supplemental grounding electrode. This means that we are often installing a second ground rod or plate to supplement the ground rod which was installed to supplement the metal underground water pipe. This is because the metal underground water pipe has the potential to be changed out by the water utility for PVC and the homeowner is not often aware of the fact that this would place them only with a single ground rod afterwards. However, metal in-ground support structures, concrete-encased electrodes, and ground rings are all not required to be supplemented and therefore might be a viable option instead. We also have the requirements for physically installing each electrode. In addition to needing to be in contact with the ground, there are specific requirements such as burial depth that we must follow. Rod and pipe electrodes must have a minimum of 8 feet in contact with the Earth and be installed vertically, unless bedrock is encountered at less than an 8 foot depth. In this case the electrode can be installed at an angle or horizontal if need be. In the event that a rod must be laid flat, it must be buried at a depth of 30 inches. This is a common burial depth for most “made” electrodes. Plate and ground ring electrodes must also be installed at a minimum depth of 30 inches. Lastly, there is the connections of the grounding electrode conductors and bonding jumpers to consider as well. Just like with most every connection in the electrical world, we need any mechanical connections to remain accessible after installation. With a few exceptions for those listed for concrete-encasement or direct burial. Keep in mind that since these accessible locations are no longer in contact with the Earth, there are sections in the NEC granting permission to use items like the first 5 feet of interior metal water pipe, building steel, or exposed reinforcing steel to extend the connection to the electrode as well. Understanding exactly how our electrical systems connect to ground helps us better achieve the goal set forth in 250.4 of grounding a system in a manner that limits the voltage imposed by lightning, line surges, or unintentional contact with higher-voltage lines and that will stabilize the voltage to earth during normal operation. Which in turn will ultimately help achieve the purpose statement of the NEC itself and that is the practical safeguarding of persons and property from the hazards that arise from the use of electricity. Being able to properly apply these concepts leads us all down a path towards protecting the world from the dangers present when electricity enters our world. At NFPA we can’t do it alone and we need your help to accomplish our mission of saving lives! Remember, it’s a big world, let’s protect it together! The visual content included in this blog is from NFPA LiNK™, your custom on-demand code knowledge tool, brought to you by NFPA. Find out more about NFPA LiNK™, and sign up for your free trial, here: Important Notice: This correspondence is neither intended, nor should it be relied upon, to provide professional consultation or services.
Stormy sky

Understanding Electrical Equipment Resiliency and Sustainability in the Face of Disasters Explored During NFPA Electrical Program on May 18

Electrical infrastructure has become such an integral part of our everyday lives that outages can often lead to serious emergency situations where folks are in real danger of being injured or worse. In fact, the events that took place in Texas this past winter are a prime example. When storms took out a large part of the power grid, many were left without power for a considerable amount of time, while also having to battle extreme low temperatures. This storm exposed a weakness in the resiliency of the Texas power grid and for many it meant major property damage and for some others, relocation. Perhaps there is some positive action that we can take away from this tragic event and help prevent something like this from crippling another community like it did in Texas. The idea that we must prepare our electrical infrastructure to be resilient in the face of disaster is not a new concept. Disasters, both natural and man-made have been a part of our world for years and with technology evolving, it has become such an integral part of our day-to-day, we must be ready for when the unthinkable happens. Backup generator power systems have been the steady method for providing reliable power in the face of tragedy for many types of installations. From the essential electrical system in healthcare facilities to portable generators to power essential loads in our homes, generators are everywhere. However, these systems still rely on a fuel source, usually a fossil fuel, to power them and, well, they can run out. To combat this and the larger resiliency issue, technology has been in development for years to help make us less dependent on the grid and fossil fuels and to be more energy independent. Adding renewable power supplies along with energy storage systems is becoming more of a standard practice in many areas and with the advent of the DC microgrid, some are even switching to non-utility-type power systems as the primary source. This is an approach that allows businesses and residents to not be as reliant on the grid system as in years past. Certainly, this helps to minimize the impact from damage to utility systems by storms and other disasters. But it also helps to guard against cyberattacks. Cyber attacks are a common occurrence these days and are a significant threat to the reliability of our electrical infrastructure. Imagine if a public utility’s system were to be infected by ransomware and the entire system shutdown until the ransom had been paid? This could cripple a community if they were not prepared. However, the race is on among the electrical industry to minimize the effect that these attacks might have on the system. Microgrids, energy storage systems, and cybersecurity in electrical infrastructure are some of the most pressing challenges of today. NFPA’s upcoming 125th Anniversary Conference Series kicks off on May 18 with a full-day program called, Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety, which will focus on these and other related topics challenging today’s electrical industry. One of the presentations will include a discussion about how equipment resiliency and sustainability must be a part of system design. With dwindling resources, a seemingly increasing threat from natural disasters as the climate of our planet evolves, and the ever-present chance that we could wake up one day to find hackers have shut down the power grid, we need to engage in conversations that will lead us to act and provide for a sustainable and reliable tomorrow.  Join us on May 18 to engage with industry experts as we tackle the topic of resiliency and sustainability and how it applies to your daily work. Learn more and register at
Electrical worker

OSHA and NFPA 70E: A History of Powerful Protection for Employees on the Job

NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® and OSHA have had a long history of working together. In fact, OSHA is a large part of why NFPA 70E even exists. In the late 1970s, it became apparent that the hard line that OSHA had taken on work exposing employees to hazards needed some modifications when it came to electrical work. However, OSHA realized that as fast as the electrical industry was changing, it would be very difficult for the Occupational Safety and Health Act to keep up with changing trends. Because of this, OSHA decided that an organization like NFPA, with a long history of developing codes and standards for the fire, life safety, and electrical safety worlds, would be a great fit for developing a standard on electrical safety when it came to employees in the workplace. Today that history continues as NFPA celebrates 125 years of helping protect the world from these hazards. This is how OSHA became the “what we have to do” and NFPA 70E became the “how we accomplish what OSHA requires.” I often am asked exactly how these two critical components of electrical safety in the workplace play off one another. Helping employers make heads or tails of these two separate but related entities is critical for the protection of employees especially in today’s world where electrical infrastructure and technology is evolving so rapidly. A firm understanding of this relationship is instrumental in an employer’s ability to keep up with the hazards present in this ever-expanding electrical landscape. First, we must examine exactly what the requirements around electrical safety are when it comes to OSHA. This involves a deep dive into OSHA standards. For this blog, we can limit our deep dive to two of the more important standards for electrical safety: 1910 for general industry and 1926 for construction workplaces. When it comes to electrical safety, we first need to understand that the general duty clause of OSHA requires an employer to provide their employees a place of employment that is free from known and recognized hazards. Then specific standards, such as 1910 subpart S give shape to OSHA’s electrical safety requirements. 1910.331 lays out that subpart S requirements apply to both qualified and unqualified workers. This same section shows exactly what type of work is covered and what is not covered. This helps us understand exactly who will be following the requirements laid out in Subpart S. In 1910.333, we find that it requires safety related work practices to prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either direct or indirect electrical contacts. There is also a requirement that all live parts to which an employee might be exposed be placed in a deenergize state before the employee works on or near them. However, there are some exceptions for when the employer can demonstrate that deenergizing creates additional hazards or an increased risk to personnel or if they can demonstrate that deenergization is infeasible due to the equipment design or certain operational limitations. An example of infeasibility might be a task that requires a current reading to be taken - it needs the power on in order to make that measurement. For instances that fall under these two reasons for permitting energized work, OSHA also states that other safety related work practices must be used to protect employees who are going to be exposed to the electrical hazards involved with this type of work. So, where does it say in Subpart S what those work practices are? This is where NFPA 70E comes into the picture. The relationship of 70E to these two requirements in OSHA is critical. First, by requiring all energized parts to be placed in a deenergized state, we need a process for what that state looks like. This is what 70E refers to as an “electrically safe work condition.” Article 110 in NFPA 70E states that an electrically safe work condition shall not be established until all the requirements of Article 120 have been met. Section 120.5 spells out multiple requirements that must be met to accomplish an electrically safe condition to work on equipment. The important thing to remember is that the major steps here are to deenergize the circuit, implement provisions to prevent reenergization, and verify that the voltage has indeed been disconnected and apply any temporary grounds, if needed to prevent accidental reenergization or induced voltages. What do we do when we don't have a deenergized state? Again, OSHA doesn't spell out what safe electrical work practices employees must follow, and we find ourselves falling back on NFPA 70E to spell out what these work practices entail. In NFPA 70E, we find requirements performing risk assessments for both shock and arc flash hazards. The results of these assessments help employers and employees develop a plan for mitigating the risk to the employee during work. Risk being defined in NFPA 70E as the combination of likelihood of occurrence and the severity of injury resulting from an incident. Once we have the results of the risk assessments, we can take the appropriate steps based on the hierarchy of risk control methods to reduce risk to a more acceptable level. It is important to note that this may entail employees selecting and wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) level based on the severity of the hazard involved. However, as the hierarchy shows, PPE must be used as a last resort. On the construction side, we find OSHA’s electrical safety requirements in 1926 subpart K. Like 1910.333, 1926 requires employers to prohibit work in such a proximity to electric circuit parts such that an employee could come in contact with these parts unless the employee is protected from shock by deenergization or by effective guarding such as insulation. However, who defines what this proximity entails? Once again, we look to NFPA 70E for guidance. 70E spells out what this proximity is since Article 100 defines the limited approach boundary as the distance from exposed energized parts at which a shock hazard exists and the restricted approach boundary as the distance from live parts at which an increased likelihood of shock exists. The restricted approach boundary is thereby the distance at which qualified people must be insulated from the shock hazard and the limited approach boundary is the distance at which 70E requires an electrically safe work condition, unless one cannot be established. This relationship between what we must do and how we do it has been an area of discussion almost since the beginning of OSHA. Having a firm understanding is paramount to keeping employees safe. This is one of the reasons that I am so looking forward to hearing about how this relationship has developed over the years when NFPA kicks off our 125th Anniversary Conference Series on May 18 with an entire day dedicated to electrical safety! One of the sessions during our “Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety” program centers around using 70E to help stay compliant with OSHA requirements. It’s being presented by none other than the retired OSHA Director of Engineering Standards, Mr. David Wallis. You won’t want to miss this session! Join us as Mr. Wallis explains the development of what we now have come to expect as a certain level of electrical safety in the workplace. Learn more about our one-of-a-kind 125th anniversary conference series and register today to participate in the full-day electrical program on May 18. I look forward to seeing you there!
Building under construction

Protecting Electrical Workers on Building Under Construction Sites

Electrical safety on construction sites is a topic that is being talked about more and more these days. So when I was asked to write about it, the safety nerd in me immediately started rattling off OSHA 1926 standards and quoting NFPA 70E requirements in my head. Then I remembered back to the days when I was probably more at home in a building under construction than I was in my own living room. Getting all nostalgic reminded me to put my safety nerd back in the cage for a second and return to this world where I now help keep my brothers and sisters on job sites safe from electrical hazards. For anyone who has spent the better part of the last 30 years on or around a construction site, it probably comes as no surprise when I say that enforcement of safety rules has become a priority on many of these sites around the world. For instance, the mindset has shifted from wearing hard hats only when exposed to an overhead hazard of falling objects to the mentality of now putting it on the second we step out of our vehicles. Safety glasses and dust masks soon followed. Driving all of this was the organization that was created to improve safety for the worker, OSHA. It didn’t take long for the larger general contractors to make safety a way of life on their sites, which was great for the crews working on the big projects, but what about the smaller ones? How do we address safety on these sites? As is human nature, when a worker has been operating the same way for the last 20 years, it is highly unlikely that their behavior will change without some level of external motivation. For me, there was no shortage of job superintendents and foremen on site to remind me of my mistakes and eventually it became second nature. Safety and PPE on construction sites act no differently than for example, wearing seatbelts in a car. Yet, there are still people who have are not motivated enough to seek safety as a culture on their own. Recently, I attended a virtual conference where electrical safety was the overall theme and one thing that kept popping up was a rules-based approach versus a skills-based approach to safety. It quickly became apparent to me that what we have here is a rules-based approach. In other words, we teach people how to do the job and then once they know the job, we throw a book of rules at them and say, “Here, follow these!” The challenge begins when the individual has potentially already picked up some bad habits. Without a force looking over his/her shoulder to ensure they follow the rules, they are likely to continue the same bad behavior. A friend recently said to me, “We can write all the requirements for safety that we want, and they can be the best safety practices for any given task, but if the worker doesn’t follow them, well, then we failed in our attempt to protect the worker.” Just about everything you and I do at this very moment in time was learned by someone showing us how to do it. With a skills-based approach, the worker only learns how to do the task with all the safety requirements in place. In other words, this approach creates a work force where the safe work practices are how they learn to become a carpenter, plumber, or electrician in the first place. In areas where this approach has been the norm, the statistics show much fewer injuries and fatalities. For example, at that same electrical safety conference, discussions revolved around multiple presentations that showed how the UK has a significantly lower number of occupational fatalities from electricity. The good news is that the winds of change are upon us here in the US. Many schools are beginning to teach safety as a skill from day one now, and we are starting to see the impact in the workforce. To see these results though we need to focus on the growing gap in injuries between the various age demographics. A quick search of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data tables shows that workers between the age of 20-24 accounted for 409 electrical injuries while the 45-54 age demographic accounted for 343 injuries back in 1999. 20 years later in 2019, these numbers have shifted to 300 and 610 injuries respectively for the same age groups. In both tables, the percentage of the workforce that each age group makes up remained about the same. Therefore, we can see that the gradual integration of electrical safety into worker training on the front end is having an impact and making the next generation of workers better equipped to avoid being injured on the job. However, simply because we can see a trend in the numbers that suggests things are working, does not in any way imply that we can back off the intensity with which we promote electrical safety. In fact, as the BLS data for 2019 illustrates, there are still 1,900 injuries resulting from exposure to electricity and that is too many. Things might be getting better, but we still have a very long way to go. We can and will get better but only if we approach workplace safety from all sides including requirements, education, and enforcement. Through this type of approach, our construction sites will naturally grow to be a safer work environment for all involved. Workers will be better equipped to recognize hazards and avoid the associated risks. Not only will this reduce the liability that many contractors face, but it will also improve productivity and help contractors avoid costly down time. A job site with fewer injuries that finishes on or ahead of schedule and with no money paid out due to injuries or worse, is a job site we can all be proud of. If you want to learn more about how data is informing safety practices and other related topics, you won’t want to miss NFPA’s upcoming 125th Conference series. This one-of-a-kind educational series features 10 one-day programs for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners and focuses on the topics you care most about. Engage in informative education sessions, get innovative content, and participate in industry roundtable discussions, networking opportunities, live chat sessions, exhibitor demonstrations, and more. It kicks off on May 18 with a one-day Electrical Program aimed at issues related to design and installation, new and emerging technology, and workplace safety in the electrical landscape. Sign up to get updates on the electrical program by visiting We look forward to seeing you there! Remember, it’s a big world, let’s protect it together!
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