EConnection
Volume 9, Issue Number 4 October 1, 2004

New Dictionary of Electrical Terms by NECA Codes Director

Brooke Stauffer, executive director for standards and safety at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), has compiled and edited the first new electrical dictionary in decades. Focusing on terminology related to power and communications systems, NFPA’s Illustrated Dictionary of Electrical Terms includes hundreds of terms and definitions taken from the National Electrical Code (NEC), National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS), National Fire Alarm Code, and other industry codes and standards.

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Mobile Construction Equipment Grounding Study Off to a Strong Start

The Electrical Contracting Foundation’s research project on grounding mobile construction equipment for safety held its first industry task force meeting July 14 in Chicago.  Fifteen representatives from line construction firms assembled with University of Kansas researchers to review their preliminary report on defining methods of protecting people and construction equipment in work zones near utility power lines.

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NECA Commissioning Standard Breaks New Ground

NECA 90-2004, Recommended Practice for Commissioning Building Electrical Systems (ANSI) is the latest National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS)‘ from NECA.  It also represents something of a new direction for the construction standards program, says the organization’s executive director of standards and safety. 

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NECA, NEMA at work on second joint National Electrical Installation Standard

NECA/NEMA 605, Nonmetallic Under-ground Utility Duct, will be the second standard jointly developed by two leading electrical industry organizations. Currently out to ANSI letter ballot, it is expected to be published in the spring of 2005.

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Stakeholders Ponder Need for Hearing Standard

Construction workers are exposed to high levels of noise which can lead to loss of hearing over time, according to Rick Neitzel of the University of Washington, who has done extensive research on the subject.

OSHA, hearing protection advocates, and construction industry representatives debated worker hearing protection issues at a stakeholders’ meeting in Dulles, Virginia. A study of more than 800 full-shift averages of various construction trades found that half of workers are overexposed to noise two-thirds of the time that they were on the job. Other scientific studies show that as many as 750,000 construction workers are exposed to “hazardous noise levels,” defined by OSHA as a time-weighted average of 85 dBA or higher for 8 hours.

Millions more are exposed to very high noise levels on a regular basis. Despite the hazard, OSHA believes only 15–33 percent of workers are wearing hearing protection. In August 2002, OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on noise-induced hearing loss among construction workers. The agency requested comments on current practices and new strategies that could be employed to prevent hearing loss.

Rulemaking on hold What the agency has learned from previous meetings is that the construction industry wants any OSHA action to be flexible, simple, and not prohibitively expensive. One concern is how to maintain accurate records with the high employee turnover rate in construction. Recordkeeping on individual workers would be necessary because hearing loss may not be detected until after years of exposure.

Rather than issuing a one-size-fits-all standard with requirements, it seems likely that OSHA will look at specific activities, tasks, and occupations that may place workers at a higher risk of hearing loss and then develop information to assist employers. Reducing noise produced by tools was also discussed at the meeting. Several participants noted that the European Union is spurring development of quieter construction tools by requiring makers to meet certain noise level standards in order to sell their products within the EU.

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Foundation Begins Photovoltaic Research Project

The Electrical Contracting Foundation voted to fund a study of the emerging photovoltaic (PV) market at its July meeting in Chicago.  The research project will be led by Professor Thomas E. Glavinich, D.E., P.E., of the University of Kansas.  It will estimate the size of the PV market, recommend strategies for electrical contractors to enter this business, and define best practices for installing PV systems.

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Certified Electrical Inspector Programs Launched

Two national Certified Electrical Inspector (CEI) programs have recently been established.  Their purpose is to promote professionalism in the electrical inspector field by establishing a widely accepted, technically sound, and portable credential.

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Code Calendar

Upcoming meetings of interest to the codes & standards  community:

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InBrief

Callanan to Lead Apprenticeship Program

Michael I. Callanan has been named executive director of the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee. Based near Washington, DC, NJATC is the joint venture electrician training program of NECA and the IBEW. Callahan was previously director of codes and standards for NJATC, and also serves on the National Electrical Code’s Technical Correlating Committee. He succeeds long-time NJATC executive director A.J. Pearson, who retired in August 2004.

NEMA Launches Online Code Monitoring Service

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has introduced a new website feature, Code Alerts. It provides up-to-date information on state and local adoptions of the National Electrical Code, plus related topics; a free email subscription service is also available. For more information or to subscribe, visit www.nema.org/fieldreps/codealerts. Light bulb celebrates 125th anniversary The incandescent electric light bulb is 125 this year. Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Alva Edison didn’t invent the light bulb, but rather improved upon it. In 1879, using lower current electricity, a small carbonized filament, and an improved vacuum inside the globe, he was able to produce a reliable long-lasting source of light. On October 21, 1879, the first commercially practical incandescent lamp completed a 40-hour duration test at Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory in New Jersey. Edison established the first incandescent lamp factory at Menlo Park in 1890; and in 1892, the General Electric Company was established.

Employers Shouldn’t Provide “Tools of the Trade”

NECA tells OSHA In comments recently submitted to OSHA, the National Electrical Contractors Association agreed that employers should generally pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) used by employees. However, NECA recommended that exceptions be made for certain PPE items generally regarded as tools of the trade. To read NECA’s full comments, visit www.necanet.org. Click on “Safety” at the left side of the page, and then scroll down to “NECA’s Comments to OSHA.” As a result of earlier comments filed by NECA and others, the agency now appears to leaning toward the position that employers need not provide PPE considered tools of the trade.

OSHA Modifies Citation Web Search Process

Responding to industry concerns, OSHA has modified the way it posts citations online. In the future, when interested parties conduct a search by employer name, they will be able to select either “closed” or “open” cases. The default search option will be closed cases only; closed cases are final and not subject to change. OSHA Administrator John Henshaw announced the new policy in an August 13 letter to ARTBA. While open cases will still be listed on the website, setting the default search option for closed cases only will better distinguish pending citations from those that have been settled. Insurance companies and others doing online research into OSHA citations will be able to understand and see the difference between final decisions and those that are being contested.

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