Electrical Safety in the Workplace | Standards Michigan

Electrical Safety in the Workplace

The fire safety and the electrical safety cultures in the United States have a common interest but approach common safety problems differently.

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Electrical Safety in the Workplace

May 9, 2019
mike@standardsmichigan.com
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Nicola Tesla in his Laboratory | Click on image

The NFPA 70-suite of electrical safety consensus documents are most familiar to the education facility safety community because NFPA documents run deeply in local public safety culture by which most colleges and universities are governed.   The NFPA 70-series documents are developed according to ANSI-accredited due process requirements that features a comparatively rigorous administration of stakeholder balance; much more so than the electrotechnology consensus documents prepared by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Standards Association which is much broader in global reach — more technically detailed — but whose committee have a less rigorous administration of stakeholder balance.

Generally speaking, the IEEE — the world’s largest professional association — is dominated by electrotechnology experts who work on behalf of the user-interest in the US standards system; hence our close collaboration with the IEEE Education and Healthcare Facilities Committee as the the emergent #SmartCampus rolls out.  We also have a vote on the IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee 18 which develops and responds to NFPA 70-series electrical safety concepts and tries to reconcile the occasional conflicts.  We also advocate extensively in the IEEE regulatory product — The National Electrical Safety Code® (NESC®) — covered here extensively because many large research universities operate at a scale similar to highly regulated public utilities.

University of Washington

The cultural difference between fire safety community and the electrotechnology community must be understood in order to understand how, why and where the NFPA-70 series of documents harmonize and conflict with IEEE Standards Association electrical safety codes and standards.   You find an abundance of academic faculty and researchers developing IEEE documents; not so many of the same developing NFPA documents.

We list the complete NFPA 70-suite below:

NFPA 70 National Electrical Code® (2017)

NFPA 70A National Electrical Code® Requirements for One- and Two-Family Dwellings[1]

NFPA 70B Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance

NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®

Note that two on the foregoing list receives special (legal) handling as “code”.

Now comes an opportunity to respond to a new tranche of proposals for the 2021 revision of NFPA 70E:

Public Input with Responses Report

First Revisions Report

Note that we have the First Draft Report well ahead of the published posting date of February 27th.  Comments on committee actions are due May 8, 2019.

Some of the noteworthy proposals we are likely to see involve reorganization of Article 110, a new Article 360 covering safe work practices for energy storage capacitors and a great deal of the customary “wordsmithing, clarification and tweaking of language regarding electrically safe work practices.    NFPA 70E improves as a public safety document with every revision.

Our proposals for closing the gaps between NFPA 70E and the NESC were rejected (not unexpected since, as we explain, the NFPA and IEEE view electrical safety differently enough to cause problems in the field) but we will challenge the perfunctory responses of the technical committees during the public commenting period.  If they are still rejected, we will submit them as proposed exceptions to NFPA 70E  in every state.[2]  Standards Michigan is undertaking a 50-state rollout during 2019 because, among other reasons, national committees in many ANSI accredited standards suites, tend to be dilutive in order to maintain them as commercially viable products.  We now offer more support for state exceptions to the codes and standards that affect the safety and sustainability goals of the education industry.

We are happy to discuss proposals for the 2021 revision of NFPA 70E any day at 11 AM Eastern time but direct you to the possibility of more detailed discussion during any of the bi-weekly online meetings of the IEEE Education and Healtcare Facilities Committee; the next scheduled for February 12th.   CLICK HERE for login credentials.

Issue: [3-3], [6-4], [10-14], [12-19], [15-160] and [18-135]

Category: Electrical, Public Safety, Risk Management

Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Jim Harvey, Joe Tedesco

 

[1] Many colleges and universities own and operate real assets that are covered by residential building codes; frequently on the perimeter of a campus or farther off-site as in the case of residential assets that are donated to the university.   We generally confine our advocacy to education facilities that are classified as commercial and covered by NFPA 70, 70B and 70E, though we are happy to consult with facility managers on NFPA 70A as necessary.

[2] Standards Michigan is undertaking a 50-state rollout during 2019 because, among other reasons, national committees across the entire span of accredited standards, tend to be dilutive.  We want to offer more support for state exceptions to the codes and standards that affect the safety and sustainability goals of the education industry.


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Posted May 12, 2018

NFPA 70E — Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace — is a solid example of a regulatory product developed through a public-private partnership between a federal agency (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the National Fire Protection Association.  The market drivers for its inspiration and continued evolution is described in more detail in this videoclip by former Massachusetts Congressman and past President of NFPA James M. Shannon.

Like almost all other NFPA consensus documents, it is revised every three years.  Public Input for the 2021 revision is due June 27th.

Standards Michigan monitors the participation of individuals,  school districts, higher education institutions as well as many of the education industry trade associations whose members are stakeholders in this NFPA product.  As we explain in our ABOUT our interest lies in supporting the voice of the user-interest (See link to NFPA Classification of Committee Members)   Because the user-interest is the weakest voice in the global standards system we strengthen our voice in developing power system safety and sustainability concepts by collaborating with technical and business experts within the membership of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers — the largest professional association in the world.   

IEEE Industry Applications Society.  Members in this society generally identify and develop leading practice for power systems on the load side of the service point (point of common coupling or demarcation) as defined in the National Electrical Code and the National Electrical Safety Code

IEEE Power Engineering Society.  Members in this society generally identify and develop leading practice for power systems on the supply side of the service point (point of common coupling or demarcation) as defined in the National Electrical Code and the National Electrical Safety Code

IEEE Industrial & Commercial Power Systems Department.  This department. a division within the Industrial Applications Society,  develops the legacy IEEE Color Books and is now in the process of adapting the Color Books into the IEEE 3000-series of recommended practices; widely understood as setting the standard of care for customer premise electrical power systems.  (Link to IEEE 3007 WG Maintenance, Operations & Safety)

IEEE Standards Association.   Because power, information and communication technology cuts across all global industries, the IEEE is one of the largest and fastest-moving standards developers in the world.   Unlike NFPA (which is closely aligned with the enforcement interest) and ASTM (which is closely aligned with manufacturers) for example, IEEE is most closely aligned with the user interest identified in ANSI Essential Requirements for Due process.

IEEE SCC-18.  This committee is the liaison between IEEE and NFPA electrical safety and sustainability subject matter experts.

IEEE Education & Healthcare Facilities Committee .   This subcommittee interacts most closely with electrical and telecommunication professionals in the education facilities industry.   Its members routinely submit public input to the full span of NFPA consensus documents.  It meets online 4 times monthly in Europe and in the Americas and has an ambitious technical agenda that has proved successful; albeit slowly. 

NFPA 70E asserts requirements for BOTH Employers and Employees. The responsibilities of employees — and the responsibilities of managers with oversight of front line electricians — are often overlooked requirements in NFPA 70E,

All NFPA and IEEE products are on the standing agenda of our weekly Open Door teleconference — every Wednesday, 11 AM Eastern time.  Anyone may join these teleconferences with login information in this link: (Open Door Login).

Issue: [3-3], [6-4], [10-14], [12-19], [15-160] and [18-135]

Category: Electrical, Public Safety, Risk Management

Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Jim Harvey, Richard Robben

Memorial Church on a May morning in the Yard. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

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