EConnection
Volume 12, Issue Number 1 January 24, 2007

National Electrical Code Panels Meet to Consider Comments

The National Electrical Code Committee recently held two weeks of meetings (November 30 - December 9) in Redondo Beach, CA. The purpose was to review and vote upon nearly 2,500 public comments on change proposals for the 2005 NEC. Individual technical subcommittees (known as code-making panels), met for as long as four days to review and vote on the public comments within their areas of responsibility.

Homeland Security Concerns Each panel has jurisdiction over particular articles of the National Electrical Code; a list of panels with their scopes is shown on page 70-9 of the 2005 NEC. In addition to the 19 regular panels, a temporary CMP-20 was formed for this Code-revision cycle. Its mission was to write a new Article 585 on “Critical Operations Power Systems (COPS),” which will become part of the 2008 National Electrical Code. New Article 585 applies to electrical systems that must keep critical operations going in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or other emergency that causes a power outage. These include air traffic control centers; police, fire, and civil defense facilities; hospitals; 911 call centers; certain government and infrastructure functions; and facilities that handle hazardous materials such as refineries and chemical plants.

Three-Stage Revision Process The National Electrical Code is revised every three years to keep it abreast of evolving electrical technology and construction methods. This was the second cycle of meetings in the process leading up to the 2008 NEC. The 20 code-making panels also met earlier this year to consider change proposals. Following letter ballots and possible appeals, the next edition of the NEC will be approved at the National Fire Protection Association’s annual meeting, to be held in Boston during June 2007.

NECA’s Leading Role The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) has been a major participant in the National Electrical Code process for nearly a century, and is one of the few organizations with representatives on every code-making panel. NECA members also chair six panels (more than any other organization), serve on the Technical Correlating Committee (supervisory body for the NEC), and chair the NFPA Electrical Section. “Other people in the Code process see NECA members as impartial experts dedicated to electrical safety,” observes Brooke Stauffer, NECA’s executive director of standards and safety. “Product manufacturers sometimes seem like they’re mainly interested in using the NEC to sell products. But since we contractors have no commercial axe to grind, that makes us the ‘white hats’ of the Code process.”

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OSHA Chief Praises T&D Strategic Safety Partnership

We previously reported that the OSHA Transmission & Distribution Strategic Safety Partnership in which NECA and line contractors are leading participants has been extended for another two years. Now, we are pleased to report what OSHA thinks of this work-in-progress.

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NFPA 70E Revision Cycle Begins

Over the last three years, NFPA 70E-2004 Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace has revolutionized safety attitudes in the electrical construction industry.

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Square D Recalls Safety Switches

Square D Company of Palatine, Illinois, is working in conjunction with the Consumer Products Safety Commission on a voluntary recall of about 27,600 Square D 30A & 60A General Duty Switch manufactured between September 11, 2006, and November 4, 2006.

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New Rule Requires High-Visibility Clothing for Highway Workers

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has published a final rule requiring the use of high-visibility clothing by workers on and around federal-aid roadways (71 Federal Regulations 67,792). It requires the use of ANSI-ISEA 107-2004, “American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear,” Class 2 or 3 retro-reflective safety apparel.

The new rule applies to people on foot whose duties place them within the right-of-way of a federal highway, such as construction and maintenance forces, utility crews, and emergency responders. More than 100 workers are killed and over 20,000 injured each year in the highway and street construction industry, according to the FHWA, which expects the rule to help reduce these numbers.

Employers have until November 24, 2008 to come into compliance. The one-year period will allow affected entities to replace existing garments, if necessary to comply with the new standard.

Comments on Rule. 117 comment letters were received during the rulemaking. Some commenters said the new safety rule should apply to workers near all roadways, including those owned by states and municipalities. In response, FHWA said that revising the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) was the appropriate process to extend visibility requirements to all roads, and would require a separate rulemaking.

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Fake “Square D” Circuit Breakers Sold By Scott Electric Recalled

In line with the settlement of a lawsuit brought against it in April, Scott Electric of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, last week announced the recall of about 30,000 counterfeit circuit breakers in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The knock-off Square D breakers were sold through Scott’s outlets in Pennsylvania and Texas from May 2005 to May 2006 for between $4 and $25 each.

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Serious Injuries, Illnesses, Declined Slightly in 2005

Employers reported a total of 1.2 million serious injuries and illnesses to workers in 2005, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced on November 17. This was a decline of 4 percent from 2004.

The median number of days away from work (which measures the severity of injuries and illnesses) was seven days in 2005, the same as in 2004. The median is the point at which half of reported cases involved more days away from work, with half involving fewer days.

Sprains and strains were the leading type of injury or illness in every major industry sector, the same as in previous years. However, BLS reported that strains and sprains in 2005 dropped 4 percent from 2004 levels.

Men accounted for 66 percent of the total serious injury and illness cases. This was higher than their employment share (54 percent) and their share of hours worked (59 percent).

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Paper On Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment Available For Free Download

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published a paper entitled Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment. This publication, which is an updated version of the paper, Guidelines for Handling Water Damaged Electrical Equipment, provides information to building owners, maintenance workers, electrical inspectors, electricians, and users of electrical products on how to evaluate electrical equipment that has been exposed to water through flooding, fire fighting activities, and hurricanes.

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WARNING: Using HID Lamps on Construction Sites Can Be Hazardous to Workers

Many electrical contractors are using High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps to provide temporary lighting on construction sites.

Although this provides all contractors with increased illumination levels to perform their work tasks, it also increases the risk of eye and facial injuries from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Some time ago, the Washington DC Chapter of NECA issued a warning about eye burn hazard from exposure to HID lighting. We recommended mounting luminaires at a high level in the work area to minimize employee exposure, and turning off HID fixtures when people were working in an elevated position near them.

Recently, a chapter member company had a job site incident that resulted in multiple sub-contractor employees having eye problems; one employee’s eyes swelling almost closed due to injury. The HID lamp had been cracked and wasn’t the self-extinguishing type.

In 1998, the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection in Western Australia published a safety and health alert regarding mercury vapor and metal halide lamps due to an incident at a public event. Since then, the Food and Drug Administration has also issued a warning on the subject.

Recommendations for Safe Use of HID Lighting at Construction Sites

Use only self-extinguishing HID lamps, or use luminaires that protect the lamp with a glass or plastic lens.

Additional guard such as metal screens can also be provided to protect the HID lamp against breakage.

Use HID luminaires only in high ceiling areas. If elevated work is to be performed, extinguish the HID luminaire and use substitute lighting sources. (Some companies have started to use higher wattage florescent light bulbs in stringers.)

DO NOT field-modify HID luminaires. Doing so increases your liability in the event of an incident.

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OSHA Issues First Aid Guidelines

OSHA has released new guidelines designed to assist employers in meeting OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.151, which requires employers to have people trained in first aid on jobsites.

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NECA Electrical Symbols Standard is Now CAD-Compatible

NECA 100-2006, Standard for Symbols for Electrical Construction Drawings has just been revised and updated. This ANSI-approved standard describes graphic symbols used to represent electrical wiring and equipment on construction drawings.

“People have been asking us for the NECA 100 symbols in CAD format for a long time now,” observed Brooke Stauffer, the organization’s executive director of standards and safety. “It’s a major functional enhancement over the original 1999 version of the publication, and we think users are going to love this new second edition NEIS are the first performance and workmanship standards for electrical construction. Referencing NEIS saves spec-writing time, and provides unprecedented control over workmanship and long-term performance.

As an enforceable part of the contract documents, NEIS significantly reduce misunderstandings among engineers, electrical contractors, owners, and facility managers.

Ordering information.The new NECA 100-2006 standard is available in two versions: as a paper book with CAD CD, or a paper book only. NECA-member prices are as follows (with quantity discounts available):

  • NECA 100 book and CD $50
  • NECA 100 book only $15

Contact the NECA Order Desk at (301) 215-4504 tel, (301) 215-4500 fax, or . Provide your name, company, mailing address, and NECA member number (where applicable). The NECA 100 book is also available in downloadable .PDF format; visit www.neca-neis.org and click on “General.”

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