Topic: Electrical

Electrical symbols

A Better Understanding of NFPA 70E: Using OSHA Top 10 Violations to Identify Known Electrical Hazards

We are all creatures of habits. We do something over and over because it works for us. However, we tend to ignore a need for change even when what we do occasionally doesn’t work. There has been a substantial decrease in fatalities caused by electricity since NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® was first issued (over 600 electrocutions annually compared to 166 recently). However, the number of electrocutions over the last decade is hovering around 155 per year. So, something is broken. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have published reports for over forty years summarizing workplace safety issues. Each year OSHA releases its top 10 violations. Online, 1991 was the earliest located for OSHA’s top 10. The violations listed below are for those that have remedies in NFPA 70E. OSHA Most Frequent Violations Violation FISCAL YEAR RANKING 1991 2000 2006 2014 2018 2020 Head protection from impact, falling or flying objects and electrical burns 2           Ground fault protection not provided 3           Electrical path to ground missing or discontinuous 4           Appropriate PPE not used for specific operation 7           Lockout/tagout (1910.147)   5 5 6 5 6 Electrical - wiring methods, components, and equipment (1910.305)   6 7 7     Electrical - general requirements (1910.303)   7 10 10     Lifesaving equipment – eye & face protection (1926.102)         10 10   It is difficult to improve electrical safety without first properly installing the equipment. As recent as 2017, there were many citations for electrical installations that did not follow the National Electrical Code® or National Electrical Safety Code®. In some industries, such as oil and gas extraction, these citations are still in the top 10. OSHA citations are issued to a facility that has been investigated due to an injury. Improper installations might exist in other facilities until a fatality and injury investigation. There are many who consider previously installed equipment to be nearly exempt from the operating conditions or hierarchy of risk controls because NFPA 70E is not an installation or maintenance standard. However, a fatality should not be the trigger for implementing a program to address electrical safety and to identify known electrical hazards. Although not solely an electrical issue, it is disturbing that lockout/tagout has be in the middle of the pack for a quarter of a century. The basic concept is simple but proper training and application seems to be falling on deaf ears. OSHA and NFPA 70E have specific requirements for lockout and tagout as well as their use in establishing an electrically safe work condition (ESWC). OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147 covers the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which the unexpected energization or startup of the machines or equipment, or release of stored energy, could harm employees. It establishes minimum performance requirements for the control of such hazardous energy. This is analogous to the lockout, tagout and establishing an ESWC requirements in NFPA 70E. The citations might also be due to employers continuing to put employees at risk rather than shutting equipment off for maintenance or repair. OSHA 29 CFR 1926.102 requires that employers ensure that affected employees use appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. Although it is probable that few citations are due to exposure to electrical hazards, NFPA 70E addresses this under the required face and eye protection. A NIOSH study of 224 electrocutions determined that at least one of the following five factors was present in each fatality; (1) established safe work procedures were either not implemented or not followed, (2) adequate or required personal protective equipment was not provided or worn, 3) lockout/tagout procedures were either not implemented or not followed, (4) compliance with existing OSHA, NEC, and NESC regulations were not implemented, and (5) worker and supervisor training in electrical safety was not adequate. NFPA 70E addresses each of these. Another NIOSH study reported on 152 fatalities involved in installation, maintenance, service, or repair tasks on or near machines, equipment, processes, or systems. Factors in each of these fatalities included failure to completely de-energize, isolate, block, and/or dissipate the energy source, failure to lock out or tagout energy control devices and isolation points after de-energization, and failure to verify that the energy source was de-energized before beginning work. Lockout and tagout procedures, PPE, safe work procedures, training and establishing an ESWC are requirements in NFPA 70E. The General Duty Clause requires an employer to provide employees proper protection from known hazards. OSHA’s 2018 Top 10 violation press release concluded with the statement; ”While many of these standards are repeated each year, it provides a good place for employers to start identifying hazards in their own workplace.” How many decades does a hazard or violation need to be listed before all employers start identifying them as known hazards in their workplace. These OSHA violations, from an electrical hazard viewpoint, could be a thing of the past if NFPA 70E requirements were universally and properly implemented. The last two Top 10 violations that include electrical safety issues are low hanging fruit. Without changing our work habits to address them, they will remain on the violation tree for another quarter of a century. NFPA 70E and the NEC are now available in NFPA LiNK™, the association’s information delivery platform with NFPA codes and standards, supplementary content, and visual aids for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. Learn more at nfpa.org/LiNK.
DIY projects

Five D.I.Y. Electrical Wiring Suggestions to Help Prevent Your Home from Going Up in Flames

It was one of those emails that just makes you cringe. Followed by a knot that just sits in the bottom of your stomach. A coworker had sent me yet another link to a major news publication’s Ask the “Expert” article. Only they didn’t put expert in quotes like I did. The publication really wanted the reader to believe that they were getting knowledgeable electrical advice from someone other than – an expert. While I am mostly certain that the intent was good, the advice unfortunately was not. Spending years in and around the construction trades does not make someone an expert in all areas construction. Being a master electrician with nearly 30 years of experience working alongside other trades does not provide me with the knowledge necessary to tell someone how to frame the structure of their home. I know many do-it-yourself (D.I.Y.) homeowners reach out to others for advice and something branded as getting answers from an expert certainly seems appealing, but electricity and errors don’t mix. When it comes to electrical installations, even one small error can set ablaze an inferno of devastating consequences. With this week being Fire Prevention Week, it seems like the perfect time to discuss why proper electrical wiring is so crucial to preventing fires in the home. In March 2019, NFPA conducted a research study analyzing home electrical fires on data captured between 2012-2016. One of the key findings from the study stated, “Home fires involving electrical failure or malfunction caused an estimated average of 440 civilian deaths and 1,250 civilian injuries each year in 2012-2016, as well as an estimated $1.3 billion in direct property damage a year.” When you look at this statistic knowing that people and property are likely the things you hold most dear, it would seem self-performing electrical wiring may pose too great of a risk. However, many still choose to take on that risk often based on the premise of saving money. But when it comes to protecting your family and possessions, money should not be the only determining factor. Getting the job done properly and safely needs to weigh heavily into the equation. Electricians spend years learning code requirements and the skills needed to perform installations in order to meet those code requirements. They are also required to take continuing education classes to keep up on current codes as a condition for license renewal. Without getting too Liam Neeson on you here, they have a special set of skills that they have acquired over the course of their careers that enable them to do the job properly. Skills that cannot be gathered from reading a how-to book or getting your questions answered from an Ask the “Expert” column in a periodical.   I will pose this question: would you let your closest loved one be operated on by a doctor who had never performed their residency? If your answer was “no,” then how can wiring a home without the skills acquired during a 4 to 5-year electrical apprenticeship be justifiable. Also considering that there are likely to be many more lives at stake when wiring a home versus a single person undergoing a surgery, it could be argued that doing so would be unfathomable. Yet it happens every day, many times over, by homeowners that choose to take that risk. This is not a sales pitch to ensure that electricians get all of the work, either. There is more work available in the foreseeable future than there are electricians to complete the work. My plea is solely based on safety and for homeowners to see, and fully consider, the immeasurable amount of risk they are applying to themselves, their families, and their possessions by performing electrical work that they are not properly trained for. And while I know I won’t be able to prevent everyone from performing their own electrical work, I can offer the following suggestions to help mitigate some of the risk: Hire an electrician. One last attempt here, because it is that important. Electricians have been specifically trained in code requirements and possess the skills necessary to perform a code compliant installation. If you still choose to perform your own work, you can always come back to this advice. At any point you feel you are too far over your head, you can always throw in the towel and call an electrician to ensure the job gets done properly. Don’t assume just because it works, that it is safe. Just because you performed the work and the light comes on, does not mean that the installation was done properly. Maybe the wire that runs from the light switch to the light fixture has a small nick in it where a staple was installed that pinched the wire too much. Now the area where the wire is pinched is starting to arc behind the wall where it can’t be seen and is coming close to igniting the paper backing on the insulation in the wall next to it. I have been on countless service calls in my years as an electrician where, after fixing the problem(s), I left the home wondering how it hadn’t gone up in flames. Follow the latest version of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®). Updates are made to the NEC on a 3-year cycle. As of the date of this blog, the 2020 NEC is the most current version with the 2023 NEC to be published sometime in the Fall of 2022. In some local jurisdictions, they do not use the most current version of the NEC. In some cases, jurisdictions will eliminate some parts of the NEC from being enforced. Often this happens at the urging of special interest groups that are not necessarily looking out for the safety of the consumer, but more so the bottom-line dollar value. For example, some states have removed the arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) requirements for specified areas of the home. Know that, regardless of the code cycle your local area is on and what may have been excluded, the NEC is the minimum requirement, and you can always do more. So, if you read up on the safety that AFCI protection provides and decide you want to install them in your home, by all means do so. Pull permits and get inspections. Electrical inspectors, also known as the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), are the final checks-and-balances piece for ensuring electrical safety regardless of who performed the work. They are the last line of defense for homeowners as to whether or not their home is safe from an electrical standpoint. While many D.I.Y. projects often go without the proper permits being pulled and inspection being performed, electrical is most definitely not an area where you want to go this route. It is also against the law and can result in heavy fines should you get caught. Not to mention the additional assumed risk you are taking by possibly having an insurance claim denied due to a negligence clause, should your home catch on fire or someone becomes injured due to improper electrical wiring, and no inspections were performed. Ask a REAL expert. If you are going to do the work yourself and seek out the answers to your questions, find a real expert to give you accurate answers. I have found often that electrical inspectors are more than willing to answer questions on how to perform an installation before actual work gets done. That can save on the costly expense of additional labor and materials associated with redoing the same job twice. Asking around, you may also find an electrical contractor who is willing to perform a service call to check your work and give you advice. The point is, whomever you choose to seek out for the answers to your questions, make sure he/she is an electrically knowledgeable source. When it comes to electrical installations, there is little room for error. While we all must make personal decisions as to the amount of risk we want to assume, we also have the ability to seek out the information needed to help manage any assumed risk. Although homeowners are often legally allowed to do their own electrical work, hiring a licensed electrician to do the work would be the best choice to mitigate risk. If they still choose to do the work themselves, it can be better managed by understanding the current code requirements and seeking out any advice needed from credible sources. With people and property involved and so much weighing on a proper electrical installation, it is crucial to get it right. To err is human but electricity does not know forgiveness. Important Notice: Any opinion expressed in this correspondence is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the official position of the NFPA or its Technical Committees. In addition, this correspondence is neither intended, nor should it be relied upon, to provide professional consultation or services.
Solar panels

Residential Energy Storage System Regulations

NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, contains requirements for the installation of energy storage systems (ESS). An ESS system is a technology that helps supplement renewable energy sources (such as wind and solar), support the country’s electrical infrastructure, and can even provide electricity to our homes during a power failure. This technology has a lot of great applications but it also has inherent fire risks so it is important to manage  risks by taking some basic precautions. NFPA 855 covers a lot of different ESS topics but this blog will focus on some of the considerations related to installing an ESS in a residential one or two family home. The exact requirements for this topic are located in Chapter 15 of NFPA 855. What is an Energy Storage System? An energy storage system is something that can store energy so that it can be used later as electrical energy. The most popular type of ESS is a battery system and the most common battery system is lithium-ion battery. These systems can pack a lot of energy in a small envelope, that is why some of the same technology is also used in electric vehicles, power tools, and our cell phones. ESS are often installed in homes to supplement solar panels, but they can also be used to offset the price of electricity by charging when electricity is cheap and discharging when it is more expensive. Size limitations The residential chapter of NFPA 855 addresses the installation of residential ESS units between 1kwh and 20 kwh. After individual units exceed 20kWh it will be treated the same as a commercial installation and must comply with the requirements of the rest of the standard. There are also limitations on how much total energy can be stored in certain areas of a household. If you go beyond those thresholds, then you need to comply with the requirements for commercial installations. Area Maximum Stored Energy Utility closets, storage or utility spaces 40 kWh Garages and detached structures 80 kWh Exterior walls 80kWh Outdoor installations 80kWh   Location Energy storage systems can pose a potential fire risk and therefore shouldn’t be installed in certain areas of the home. NFPA 855 only permits residential ESS to be installed in the following areas: Attached garages Detached Garages On exterior walls at least 3 ft (914 mm) away from doors or windows Outdoors at least 3 ft (914 mm) away from doors or windows Utility closets Storage or utility spaces ESS can be installed in any of those locations, however if the room is unfinished, the walls and ceiling need to be protected by at least 5/8 in. (16 mm) gypsum board. Certain types of energy storage systems have the potential to discharge toxic gas during charging, discharging, and normal use. It makes sense that these types of energy storage systems are only permitted to be installed outdoors. One last location requirement has to do with vehicle impact. One way that an energy storage system can overheat and lead to a fire or explosion is if the unit itself is physically damaged by being crushed or impacted. Because of this risk, any battery systems installed in a location where they are subject to vehicle damage needs to be protected by approved barriers, usually in the form of safety bollards. No one wants bollards installed in their garage or driveway so ideally one would be able to move their system out of reach from vehicles. This can be accomplished by either relocating the ESS to a place where vehicles can’t access or mounting it higher on the wall so vehicles can’t accidentally run into it. Fire Detection If there is an ESS in your home then interconnected smoke alarms are required to be installed throughout your house, including any garages or rooms housing ESS units. If you run into a situation where you can’t install a smoke alarm, such as an attached garage, a heat detector must be installed and be connected to the smoke alarms in the rest of the house. Electric Vehicle Use As global sales of electric vehicles seem to be exponentially growing the committee that wrote NFPA 855 thought it would be important to include requirements for houses that will use their electric vehicles as energy storage systems. There are really only two main requirements. First, any electric vehicle used to power a dwelling while parked needs to comply with the manufacturer’s instructions and NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®. Second, the use of a vehicle to power a home can’t exceed 30 days. While there are a lot of requirements for commercial energy storage systems the rules and regulations are much more relaxed for smaller systems being installed in residential one- and two-family dwellings. I hope you enjoyed this blog. ESS is certainly a hot topic. If you are interested in  ESS, please plan to attend either the Keeping Hazardous Environments Safe one-day conference on October 5th where ESS will be discussed during two industry panel discussions or the Global Trends and Research conference on November 2, where experts will discuss ESS explosion risks during a two-hour roundtable. All NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series sessions are available for one year after the live date, via on-demand. For related training, articles, research reports, and more check out www.nfpa.org/ESS.
Grounding bar

Grounding: Understanding the Essentials for Building the Foundation of a Structure’s Electrical System

Grounding is a term an electrician, electrical engineer, or facility manager is very familiar with and uses frequently, but what does it mean? The initial thought is, it’s just connecting a grounding conductor to the earth. In simple terms that is correct, but it is more than that. First, we must understand what grounding is so a proper grounding system can be established. Grounded or grounding, as defined in the 2020 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), Art. 100, is connecting to ground or to a conductive body that extends the ground connection. So, I’m sure many of you are thinking, just stick a wire in the ground and call it good, right? Not exactly. There first must be an effective ground-fault current path created to ensure a safe electrical system. Basically, it is the creation of a low-impedance electrically conductive path that facilitates the operation of the overcurrent protective device. This path must be capable of safely carrying the maximum ground-fault current likely to be imposed on it from any point on the electrical wiring system where a ground fault may occur. The earth itself is not considered an effective ground-fault current path, so sticking the wire in the ground is not enough. Grounding is the very foundation of a building or structure’s electrical system. According to 250.20(B) of the 2020 NEC alternating-current (AC) systems of 50 volts to 1000 volts must be grounded which means referenced to earth. This is accomplished through a properly installed grounding electrode system. Having a strong grounding electrode system stabilizes voltage and helps to clear ground faults. The 2020 NEC, Section 250.50 gives the outline of a grounding electrode system and section 250.52 lists the approved grounding electrodes. A few of the more efficient grounding electrodes for buildings and structures are: Metal Underground Water Pipe Metal In-ground Support Structures Concrete-Encased Electrode (also known as “footer ground” or “Ufer ground”). Ground Ring A grounding electrode system is the connection to earth, through the code required grounding electrodes. The grounding electrodes then get connected back to the building’s electrical service via a grounding electrode conductor (GEC). The GEC, at the building or structure’s service, is terminated on the neutral bar within the electrical service equipment alongside the grounded (neutral) conductor. The neutral bar is bonded (connected) to the service equipment enclosure through a main bonding jumper which in turn creates an effective ground-fault current path for the electrical system. But once an effective ground-fault current path has been established to the earth, then what? How is the electrical equipment found in buildings and structures going to be grounded? It’s through the branch circuit equipment grounding conductor (EGC). EGCs come in various sizes, types, and materials as found in the 2020 NEC, Section 250.118. Some of those are: Copper, aluminum, or copper-clad aluminum conductors Rigid metal conduit (RMC) Intermediate metal conduit (IMC) Electrical metallic tubing (EMT) Frequently, EGCs are the raceway system, RMC, IMC, or EMT. These types of EGCs are bonded together and to the equipment enclosure through a series of listed set screw or compression couplings and connectors. Most connectors utilize lock nuts or bond bushings for the connection to the electrical equipment or enclosures. Where bond bushings are used, they require an additional conductor, referred to as an equipment bonding jumper, which is required to finish the connection to the enclosure, neutral bar, or EGC bar. This helps complete the effective ground-fault current path. Using a bond bushing with equipment bonding jumpers can be more prone to human error or mechanical failure, therefore, the effective-ground-fault current path may not be as sound. EGCs that are an electrical conductor such as copper, aluminum, or copper-clad aluminum conductors, can be more effective due to the direct connection to the electrical equipment, enclosure, neutral bar or EGC bar. Opportunity for failure is less with this type of EGC because of the reduced connection points. In general, when installing an EGC, the approved EGC shall be contained within the same raceway, trench, cable, or cord from the electrical service or sub-panel as the feeder or branch circuit conductors that provide power to the electrical equipment. From an electrical safety standpoint and looking at NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, Section 120.5(8), where there is a possibility of induced voltages, all circuit conductors and circuit parts should be grounded before touching them. This is one of the potential steps for establishing an electrically safe work condition (ESWC), so a weak or non-functioning EGC would make it difficult or impossible to create an ESWC when the need for replacing or maintaining the electrical equipment arises. To learn more about proper bonding, take a deeper look at Art. 250 of the 2020 NEC. Our newest grounding and bonding fact sheet will also be a helpful resource. Download it here.  Failure to establish an effective ground-fault current path through proper grounding may prevent overcurrent protective devices from working properly and therefore not effectively clearing a ground-fault, which could result in a shock, electrocution, or arc flash incident. By creating the effective ground-fault current path you’ll not only be doing the job correctly, but you’ll keep yourself and others safe to boot. NFPA 70 the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) is now available in NFPA LiNK™, the association’s information delivery platform with NFPA codes and standards, supplementary content, and visual aids for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. Learn more at nfpa.org/LiNK.  
An electrician with wiring

A Better Understanding of NFPA 70E: Electrical Equipment Working Space

The National Electrical Code® (NEC)® Section 110.26 requires adequate working space for all electrical equipment. NEC Section 110.26(A) requires a clear space at least 30 inches wide and 36 inches deep if the equipment is likely to be worked on while energized. This space is necessary not only to allow workers room to perform tasks but also room to move if something goes wrong. NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, Section 110.3 requires that all equipment be placed into an electrically safe work condition (ESWC) unless there is proper justification for the equipment to be energized. NEC 110.26(A) still applies even if equipment will be in an ESWC. The initial electrical inspection for a facility is conducted by a legislated authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).  However, as with all NFPA 70E requirements, it is the employer who assigns someone as the AHJ within the facility. That person may also be the AHJ for the NEC requirements when new equipment is installed in that facility. Floor space is at a premium so providing larger working space is a common issue. An inhouse AHJ will try to convince the official AHJ that the equipment will never be worked on while energized. The problem with that argument is that both OSHA and NFPA 70E require equipment that is not in a verified ESWC to be considered energized. As far as the NEC is concerned, energized equipment requires working space no matter which AHJ inspects the installation. The inhouse AHJ will claim that employee training, work procedures, equipment maintenance, and work practices assure that an employee will never work on the equipment energized. The inhouse AHJ may convince themselves that this is justification to use a working space smaller than NEC Section 110.26(A) when they are the sole AHJ. This argument typically fails when it is an official AHJ who must approve the proposed working space. They want to assure worker safety under any situation by providing the required space. Few official AHJs will approve a smaller working space based on conditions that are beyond their jurisdiction. They will not verify worker qualification, determine the effectiveness of the training program, check equipment maintenance records, or review work procedures and practices. Human error is a major contributor to workplace fatalities and injuries. An official AHJ will not want to sign off on an installation that will haunt them when a worker fails to follow the employer’s electrical safety program. It takes experience to protect workers while preserving valuable floor space. Electrical safety is always affected by installation, maintenance, and work practices. There is equipment not likely to be worked on while energized. There are installation methods and techniques that can minimize the amount of working space required. There is equipment that operates below the minimum shock or arc-flash hazard levels. The full working space of NEC 110.26(A) will be necessary without a holistic approach to electrical safety. Make sure your installations provide the clear space necessary to keep a worker safe. NFPA 70E and the NEC are now available in NFPA LiNK™, the association’s information delivery platform with NFPA codes and standards, supplementary content, and visual aids for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. Learn more at nfpa.org/LiNK.
Rethinking electrical safety  - a man in front of a city skyline

Rethinking Electrical Safety Because Lives Depend On It

Electrical safety is without question a critical component to a successful electrical installation. Yet many seem to have differing viewpoints on what is safe and what risks should be taken. At the root of every electrical safety incident is a person who made a choice, based on the information they had available. Sometimes proper training is not provided and at other times, proper training may have been provided, but chosen not to be utilized by the individual. Either scenario can end in a fatal result, or a non-fatal physical or mental injury that continues to impact the victim for years to come.  Even when the incident proves to be non-fatal, long-term sequalae, or lingering effects, from a previous electrical injury have been known to produce neurologic, psychological, and physical symptoms. With so much at stake, it is crucial that electrical safety training continue to be reevaluated by all involved to determine where we can improve. Having proper knowledge of how to perform electrical tasks safely is a solid foundation. NFPA 70E® Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® should be the cornerstone that electrical safety training is built upon, as it provides guidelines and procedures for working safely around electricity. Something to consider, is how the training of processes and procedures take place. Looking at the apprenticeship model in my home state, there is a minimum of 576 hours of classroom-based related technical instruction (RTI) required. Of the 576 required hours of RTI, 450 hours are mandated to have so many hours trained on specific components. The safety component requirement is 10 hours of the 450. There is also no mandate that those 10 hours be electrical safety training such as NFPA 70E, as it could revolve around first aid, CPR, AED, OSHA training, etc. and still meet the requirement specifications. All things considered, an apprentice could go through an entire 576-hour program and receive only 10 hours - equating to 1.74 percent of the full program hours - of safety training that may or may not be electrical safety based. Sure, there are 126 hours additional flexible RTI hours of training available to train on electrical safety, after the 450 required hours, but there is no mandate that electrical safety is part of those additional hours. And my state is likely not unique to this arrangement of electrical apprenticeship hours, as many states utilize similar templates provided by governmental organizations, such as the United States Department of Labor, as a baseline to create their individual state Standards of Apprenticeship.   Analyzing the previous examples and thinking about where electrical safety can be improved upon, two things come to mind: First, there has to be more emphasis placed on the need for safety training that is specific to working around electricity within apprenticeship programs. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standard 1910 has specific rules to help keep individuals safe when working around electricity, like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Subpart I, that are often met by using procedures within NFPA 70E. But training on these rules are not always built into apprenticeship programs themselves. Where required, employers often look to outside resources to train on NFPA 70E procedures that will help meet OSHA requirements. Apprenticeship programs need to be designed so the applicable electrical safety training is built into their programs and employers can train additionally, as needed, for job-specific or industry-based tasks. The second item digs a little deeper and relates to how electrical safety training is actually delivered. In the previous example, safety training is one of many components within the program. But electrical safety is a critical part of many of the processes and tasks that are learned in other areas of an apprenticeship. How can a defective circuit breaker be changed out safely if electrical safety procedures aren’t followed as part of the process? Teaching electrical safety as part of the specific task process, instead of as a stand-alone component, would allow apprentices to learn safety as a step that is already built into the task. Just as it is learned that you turn a screwdriver to the left to loosen a screw that holds a circuit breaker in place, it could also be learned that establishing an electrically safe work condition (ESWC) is an integral step in safely changing out a defective circuit breaker. Understanding electrical safety is part of the process but knowing how and when to apply it as part of routine installation procedures will help individuals to return home safely each night. Electrical safety is ever evolving and no one person holds all the answers. It becomes necessary to look at and evaluate what becomes the norm, eliminate any complacency, and be open to rethinking how we train electrical safety. College football coach Bo Schembechler was known for saying, “Every day you either get better or you get worse. You never stay the same.” When it comes to electrical safety, I believe that also holds true. We must continue to use every new day as an opportunity to get better on how we train electrical safety. Lives depend on it.   Learn more about NFPA 70E training that is available to help with your electrical safety training needs. 
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