Optimal electrical safety and reliability is strongly correlated with electrical maintenance — i.e. functional checks, servicing, repairing or replacing of necessary devices, equipment, machinery, building infrastructure, and supporting utilities in industrial, business, governmental, and residential installations. As our electrical systems have evolved, maintenance work has come to include various cost-effective practices to keep equipment operational. These activities take place either before or after a failure. In either case, normal maintenance is “likely” to expose electrical workers to hazard. The workplace is where maintenance occurs.
In electrical power systems, equipment and systems that control energy are designed to work, perhaps, only once or twice dependably in 25 to 50 years; if that. Only safety-by-design and recommended maintenance can sustain the likelihood that safety and reliability expectations can be met. Electrical maintenance usually involves exercising breakers, testing trip settings, confirming signaling paths in controls, software and the like. Safety by design usually involves applying methods to minimize occupational hazards early in the design process, with an emphasis on optimizing employee health and safety throughout the life cycle of materials and processes.
There are several leading practice documents in this space; one of them IEEE 3007.2-2010 – Recommended Practice for the Maintenance of Industrial and Commercial Power Systems — and another — NFPA 70E Electrical Safety in the Workplace — a trademarked document. NFPA 70E is the go-to document for workplace safety regulators; heavily referenced into Occupational Safety and Health Administration documents*. While the most concentrated locus of electrical safety expertise lies with the IEEE, the IEEE Standards Association chooses not to trademark its consensus products because that would require turning over its intellectual property to the public where its products are incorporated by reference into public safety regulations. The NFPA, with solid revenue from the fire safety industry, is tooled up better for recapturing the cost of developing the NFPA 70-suite; generally — and NFPA 70E in particular.
With this short lesson in consensus document production economics let us turn our attention to NFPA 70E. We are now deep into its 3-year 2021 revision cycle. From the NFPA 70E prospectus:
This standard addresses electrical safety-related work practices, safety-related maintenance requirements, and other administrative controls for employee workplaces that are necessary for the practical safeguarding of employees relative to the hazards associated with electrical energy during activities such as the installation, inspection, operation, maintenance, and demolition of electric conductors, electric equipment, signaling and communications conductors and equipment, and raceways. This standard also includes safe work practices for employees performing other work activities that can expose them to electrical hazards as well as safe work practices for the following:
(1) Installation of conductors and equipment that connect to the supply of electricity
(2) Installations used by the electric utility, such as office buildings, warehouses, garages, machine shops, and recreational buildings that are not an integral part of a
generating plant, substation, or control center.
Informational Note: This standard addresses safety of workers whose job responsibilities entail interaction with electrical equipment and systems with potential exposure to energized electrical equipment and circuit parts. Concepts in this standard are often adapted to other workers whose exposure to electrical hazards is unintentional or not recognized as part of their job responsibilities. The highest risk for injury from electrical hazards for other workers involve unintentional contact with overhead power lines and electric shock from machines, tools, and appliances.
The Second Draft Committee meeting takes place July 16 – 18 at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana. When the Second Draft Report is released to the public on or before January 22, 2020 we will have an opportunity to respond through the NFPA NITMAM procedure by February 19, 2020. While we are happy to discuss this and any other regulatory product any day during our daily 11 AM Eastern time teleconferences, we refer most of the technical specifics to the IEEE Education & Healthcare Facilities Committee which meets online in European and American time zones every two weeks.
Issue: [3-3], [18-135]
Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Tammy Gammon, Jim Harvey, Joe Tedesco
*OSHA develops electrical safety documents of its own; the topic of a separate post since the jurisdictional politics are sensitive. CLICK HERE for a preview.
In 2003, the original University of Michigan codes and standards advocacy enterprise began submitting proposals to reduce electrical hazards dramatically by reducing the size of transformers and introducing series impedance elements to throttle fault current. Over a decade later, we find that both of these concepts are tracking in NFPA and IEEE consensus documents. Here are two videoclips from IEEE-TV in which experts discuss the technical specifics: