You would think that the concept of properly installed electrical equipment would be easily understood. However, there are some areas in United States that do not adopt the most recent National Electrical Code® (NEC®) and therefore may not have installation requirements for new technologies or alternate methods. Also, there are counties that do not follow the state’s adoption of the NEC. Some areas are more concerned with residential installations than commercial or vice versa. In many areas, the service and initial electrical distribution system are inspected by a local authority at the time of building construction. However, commercial, industrial, and residential electrical installations have additions to the electrical system and additional installed electrical equipment that have been done in-house. Many times an outside contractor performs that work. Installations could have been done by someone who may or may not know the correct NEC installation requirements.
Often the installation is in accordance with NEC requirements. Occasionally, installations deviate from those requirements. The conductor or cable that is on the truck or available in-house is used rather than what is specified. A different fuse or circuit breaker is used because it was less expensive. Conduits or tubing are installed in locations not appropriate for compliance with the NEC. Grounding and bonding may not be completely accomplished. Some of the time this occurs due to an error. Other times this occurs by choice. Either way an inspection of the installation will help correct these before someone is harmed.
Whether we want to admit it or not, at some point in our career, we have all done something that we felt was “good enough.” We may have done this under the assumption that we would be the one responsible for dealing with that piece of equipment. If we were lucky enough, someone inspected the installation and pointed out areas that were lacking. When an installation is done in a neat and workmanlike manner and compliance with the requirements, almost everyone would welcome an inspection by someone else. Most of us take pride in our work and having it validated is rewarding.
Regardless of who did the installation, inspections are not for the purpose of assigning blame. Electrical inspections are conducted to verify that installations are in compliance with requirements set in place for safety. NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® requires proper installation as a basis for minimizing electrical injuries. A safe installation is necessary for not only for any person operating the equipment but also for those maintaining the equipment. Although the NEC and NFPA 70E address electrical safety, safe operation of equipment is not limited to complying with electrical standards since things like improperly installed pressure systems may affect the safety of that equipment. If an outside authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) does not perform inspections of these installations, you are by default the AHJ. It is your responsibility to have installations verified as being are in compliance with the NEC and manufacturer’s requirements before permitting an employee to interact with the equipment in any manner. This is true whether the work is done in-house or by an outside contractor. How are you doing this?
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Next time: NFPA 70E audits.
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