Topic: Electrical

Join NFPA as we Celebrate 125 Years of Protecting People and Property; Anniversary Conference Series Kicks off on May 18 with Electrical Program

NFPA is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and we want to commemorate this momentous milestone with you! Since our founding in 1896, NFPA has been devoted to eliminating death, injury property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical, and related hazards. Working side-by-side with our members, colleagues, and countless other fire and life safety advocates from every industry across the globe, we have had a major impact on the public’s safety – we’re proud of the strides we have made over the past few decades in reducing the fire problem worldwide.  So it is with great excitement we’re announcing NFPA will be hosting a series of events and initiatives throughout the year that pay homage to the Association and its long history of dedication and collaboration. Key to the celebration is the launch of a virtual 125th Anniversary Conference Series that replaces the traditional in-person 2021 NFPA Conference & Expo. The series features 10 one-day programs for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners that collectively offer more than 100 informative education sessions, engaging content, industry roundtable discussions, networking opportunities, live chat sessions, and exhibitor demonstrations. Led by leading industry experts, the program sessions cover a broad range of topic areas from the impact of new technology on codes and standards and the use of data to drive safety, to community risk reduction and public education strategies aimed at protecting people and property. The sessions are designed to help you adjust to changing industry needs and more effectively and efficiently perform your daily work. The online conference series runs from May 2021 through March 2022 and will be available on demand during the year to allow for more schedule flexibility.  For those in the electrical industry, you do not want to miss the first program of the series that kicks off on May 18. The “Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety” one-day program has two learning tracks and nine sessions that focus on issues related to design and installation, new and emerging technology, and workplace safety in the electrical landscape. Whether you attend the live event in May or view the content on demand, the program will help you sharpen your skills and improve your knowledge as you earn CEU credits. Find out more on our webpage. With so much to celebrate, we hope you’ll join us for this year-long, unique educational opportunity. A safe world is our priority, and we look forward to our continued progress, working with all of you, during the next 125 years and beyond! Visit nfpa.org/conferenceseries to learn more about the series, the electrical program, and to see the full roster of upcoming events.
NEC meeting

Celebrating NFPA’s 125th Anniversary and its Rich History with the NEC; Year-Long Anniversary Education Conference Series Kicks Off with One-Day Electrical Program on May 18

NFPA is 125 years young! Founded in 1896 by like-minded visionaries looking to better protect society from the devastating effects of fire, our vital mission has transcended the 10-plus decades that have passed since our we first came to be. Organizations do not reach the age of 125 unless there is a compelling reason to exist. As it was in the beginning, it is still true today. Fire, electrical and other hazards adversely affect our society in many ways. As society evolves so, too, do the hazards we face. While implementation of NFPA codes and standards has ameliorated many hazards, new ones arise and the challenge of making people safer is why NFPA is just as important today as we were 125 years ago. Coincidentally, another group of safety professionals met in March 1896 to take on a parallel challenge. Their task: how to make the burgeoning use of electricity and its associated hazards safe for installations in homes and businesses. Their efforts resulted in the first electrical code that could truly be viewed as a national standard. The first edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) was published by the National Board of Fire Underwriters in 1897 and standardized electrical safety requirements so that installers, designers, manufacturers, product testing organizations, and inspectors had a single set of installation requirements that could be implemented anywhere. The codification of these standardized rules laid the foundation for the most well-known and widely used construction code in the world. The parallel paths of NFPA and the National Electrical Code intersected in 1911 when NFPA assumed the sponsorship of the National Electrical Code. The Code’s mission perfectly meshed with the NFPA mission and since 1911, 36 subsequent editions of the NEC have been published by NFPA. Like the community that uses it, the NEC is dynamic. The electrical world doesn’t stop and take a breath when each new NEC is published. Advancements in technology and products necessitate the NEC community to always be looking forward, not backwards. Implementation of new technology and methods require an up-to-date installation standard and that is why the process rewinds every three years and starts again. Beginning in November, the over 500 members of the National Electrical Code Committee met to review and act on proposed changes for the 2023 edition. Eighteen technical committees, known in the NEC process as “Code-Making Panels” convened to do the all-important work. These CMP meetings were preceded by countless hours of task group work in preparation for the actual meetings. And, unlike any NEC meeting in the past, the 2023 First Draft meetings had to be held virtually due to the national pandemic.  Despite this changeup in meeting format, the process continued like a well-oiled machine, processing 4,006 public inputs. We invite you to continue to follow the 2023 NEC development process by going to www.nfpa.org/70 and clicking on the “Next Edition” tab. While electrical equipment and wiring practices have changed immeasurably since the first meeting in 1896, the mission of making electrical installations safe remains unchanged. Like the original members of the NEC committee, today’s members approach their task with energy and dedication because they know their work has an outcome that benefits millions. Every receptacle, luminaire, panelboard, and solar photovoltaic panel installed is safety driven by the NEC. While the work is hard, and the hours are long, the men and women of the NEC committee do their work with the satisfaction of knowing they are making a difference. To commemorate its milestone anniversary, and to honor the work of safety professionals around the globe and the impact it has had on the public’s safety, NFPA is rolling out a number of initiatives and events from May 2021 – March 2022, including hosting a 125th Anniversary Conference Series featuring 10 one-day virtual educational programs. On May 18, we are excited to kick it off with the first program of the series: Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety. The full-day program event is focused on advances in technology, the impact of new technologies on electrical codes and standards, and how technology is influencing today’s industry, with sessions led by leading subject matter experts who are passionate about electrical safety. From in-depth educations sessions to roundtable discussions and networking events, this unique virtual educational program has everything electrical practitioners need to remain competitive in the field and improve safety outcomes on the job. You don’t want to miss this exciting program! Visit our conference series webpage to get all the details and sign up to attend. More information about the full roster of programs happening throughout the year is also available. Not sure you’ll be able to attend? Every program is available on demand to meet your needs and fit your busy schedule. Please visit nfpa.org/conferenceseries to learn about our anniversary celebration and our conference series’ programs. I look forward to seeing you all 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 nfpa.org/conference. We look forward to seeing you there! Remember, it’s a big world, let’s protect it together!
NFPA 70E blog banner

A Better Understanding of NFPA 70E: Why appointing an authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) can be a challenging task

NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® is a safe work practice standard. So, although electrical installation (National Electrical Code®) and maintenance (NFPA 70B) play a role, the procedures necessary to do either are not within the NFPA 70E scope. The required electrical safety program should cover them as well as the NFPA 70E requirements. What users need to know is the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for electrical safety, although NFPA 70E has been around for fifty years. NFPA 70E, in a nutshell, requires that an employer protect employees from electrical hazards regardless of the task they are performing. Consider why a standard would tell you that an AHJ should be the CEO, safety officer, human resource person, or department manager? They may not be qualified at your facility so why would a standard assign them as an AHJ? Do you want a standard to require that electrical inspections be conducted by a minimum 15-year master electrician with at least 25 years of experience installing and maintaining the specific equipment to be inspected? It is probable that no one at your facility has those qualifications. You have the safety requirements in the standard. So, what does it take for someone to know what they are enforcing? Common sense helps when assigning an AHJ for determining compliance with NFPA 70E requirements. An employee could be injured if you do not. Ask yourself, should the AHJ responsible for written procedures have used the procedures and operated the equipment covered by the procedure? Should the AHJ responsible for inspecting an in-house electrical installation know the NEC and manufacturer’s requirements for that type of installation? Can an employee be ‘the AHJ’ for their own work? Should the AHJ for a lockout program not only know the requirements but know what type of equipment requires lockout? Should the AHJ responsible for field audits know the procedures an employee should be following? Does one person at your facility have all this knowledge? You get the point. Do you permit unqualified employees to run the human resource department, act as CEO, handle finances, or design new products? Did a standard tell you who was qualified and what qualifications were necessary for those positions? You have assigned qualified employees to perform many tasks within your facility, the same applies for qualified electrical safety AHJs. I am often asked who should be considered an AHJ and what qualifications they should have. I believe the AHJ should be whoever you determine is qualified to fill that role. Their title does not matter. The person may be more important than the job position when looking for an AHJ. As many of my blogs point out, assigning an individual AHJ for all the requirements in NFPA 70E will often be a mistake. Their qualifications should be whatever you deem necessary. Consider this: do you want an “official AHJ” to inspect your in-house electrical installations? Then you should invite the local electrical inspector (legislated AHJ) to do inspections before you power up installed equipment. Does it take an electrical engineer to determine the compliance for what you ask? Then they should be an electrical engineer. Will only a master electrician be able to determine if an employee is following the documented safe work practices? Then they should be a master electrician. If no one is qualified to inspect personal protective equipment (PPE), you need to determine what would make someone qualified before assigning the job.  The legislated electrical inspector plays a major role in complying with the NEC. The appointed AHJ for other standards, such as NFPA 70E, is just as important. In the end, however, a trusted, competent person must oversee each requirement. Remember that when you assign any AHJ. Next time: The 2024 edition of NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Want to keep track of what is happening with the National Electrical Code® (NEC®)? Subscribe to the NFPA Network to stay informed of new content. The newsletter also includes NFPA 70E information such as my blogs.
Scene from Florida

Arc Flash the Subject of Additional Interview for Faces of Fire/Electrical Hazard Awareness Video Series

In August 2004, Don Johnson, an electrician from Florida, was at work connecting a client’s backup generator for use during an impending hurricane when a failure of his rotation tester or a loose clip shorted out in a 4,000 amp/480-volt switchgear section he was working on, creating an arc flash event that destroyed much of the equipment and blew him against a wall nearly killing him. Johnson survived but suffered third-degree burns on his face, neck and arms, and spent years recovering from his injuries.  Don’s story is the latest, and final interview of Faces of Fire/Electrical, a campaign series from NFPA and the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors that features personal stories of people impacted by electrical incidents, and provides information about electrical safety in the workplace and at home. Arc flash, also known as flashover, is the light and heat produced as part of an arc fault, and a type of electrical explosion or discharge that results from an unintended electrical connection through the air to ground or another phase of the electrical system. An arc flash is one of the most devastating and deadly electrical hazards present in today’s workplace; it can produce temperatures as high as 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit and cause severe burns, hearing loss, eye injuries, skin damage from blasts of molten metal, lung damage, and blast injuries. An NFPA report estimates that five to 10 arc flash incidents occur every day, and more than 2,000 people are treated annually in burn centers with arc flash injuries. Both shock and arc flash, in addition to other electrical hazards have been the focus of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Workplace Electrical Safety® and OSHA standards since the late 1970s. NFPA 70E emphasizes the importance of performing a solid risk assessment that examines all aspects of the hazards to which employees are exposed and provides a valuable tool to determine how best to mitigate the potential danger. Faces of Fire/Electrical features personal stories of electrical burn survivors whose lives have been forever altered and how more understanding, training, and a change in work culture could have significantly impacted these outcomes. Through interviews, written profiles, and related information, Faces of Fire/Electrical is a resource for electrical and non-electrical workers, and the general public to learn more about the importance of electrical safety. We are grateful to Don and his wife, Kelly, for sharing their story with us. Hear Don’s conversation with NFPA and learn how he is advocating for electrical workplace safety. Visit www.nfpa.org/facesoffire to watch all the videos from the series. Free resources are also available to download and share, including a recent NFPA Podcast, The Mysteries of Electrical Injuries, that takes an in-depth look at what a powerful electrical shock can do to the body, and how it’s treated. Find this information and more at nfpa.org/facesoffire.
1 2 ... 25

Latest Articles