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8 Posts authored by: channahs Employee

GFCI

 

If your kitchen is anything like ours, you’ll agree it’s become more of a gathering place for family than our own living rooms. While it may be hard to equate actual statistics to time spent in a kitchen, there is little doubt that more and more hours are being spent here, especially now as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and people continue to avoid restaurants for the immediate future and opt instead to do more cooking and entertaining at home. But just as we would never cut an onion with a blindfold on, we must also keep our eyes wide open to potential electrical dangers in the kitchen.

 

In the nearly 125 years of its existence, the National Electrical Code (NEC) has worked to help safeguard both people and property from hazards arising due to the use of electricity.  Every three years, the NEC is revised based on input that is often derived from knowledge, experiences, and technology advancements that can help improve upon safety.  A great example of the NEC making a change that had a significant impact on safety is when ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) receptacle requirements were first introduced in 1973 which were then required for outdoor receptacles. Since that time, when it comes to GFCIs, other key areas of the home and other locations and requirements have also been included like bathrooms (1975), garages (1978), and kitchens (1987) to help improve upon safety. Why the continuous evaluation and improvement of safety? The ever-changing world makes safety a continuous adventure, not a destination. When it comes to safety, we cannot rest on our laurels of what we have done; we must constantly evaluate and improve to help protect people and property. The 2020 NEC revision cycle has done just that when it comes to residential kitchen safety.

As I mentioned, GFCI protection has been a key part of the NEC helping to ensure safety that has been improved upon over several NEC cycles dating back to the 1970s. The latest revision was no exception to advances in GFCI protection:

 

  • NEC section 210.8(A) has been expanded in the 2020 edition to not only include 125-volt receptacles but to now include receptacles up to 250-volt. That means that receptacles that operate at 250-volt, such as those for an electric range would now need GFCI protection but only if it is installed within six feet of the edge of the sink. Kitchen design and layout, specifically appliance placement as related to sink locations, can certainly have an impact as to whether GFCI protection is required in these applications.
  • Another revision to GFCI protection in the 2020 NEC is to section 422.5(A) dealing with appliances that require GFCI protection. This section was revised to include dishwashers. Yes, dishwashers! It’s hard to believe that an appliance that works so closely with electricity and water has not required GFCI protection prior, but the good news is, now it does.
  • Kitchen island receptacle requirements also saw a major overhaul during the 2020 NEC revision cycle. In prior versions of the NEC, section 210.52(C)(2) required that at least one receptacle be installed within a kitchen island that had a countertop with a long dimension of 24 inches or greater and a short dimension of 12 inches or greater. Within the same section of the 2020 NEC, it has been revised to require at least one receptacle within the first nine square feet or fraction thereof, of an island countertop and an additional receptacle for every 18 square feet more or fraction thereof. An additional requirement states that at least one receptacle shall be located within two feet of the outer end of a peninsula countertop. The example picture below shows how a 9 ½ foot by 3-foot island countertop will now require three total receptacles to meet the new requirements.

GFCI

This may seem like a large dimension for an island, but it is fairly common today to see an island this size, or larger, that is the main focus of the kitchen and utilized for many tasks. Having an adequate number of receptacles for not only cooking needs, but for plugging in phone chargers, laptops, etc., will provide more ability to power devices and appliances without the need to utilize extension cords or power splitters.

 

While your local municipality may not yet be using the 2020 NEC, these revisions will have an impact on the way residential kitchens are wired when it does become adopted. Understanding these changes now will give you an opportunity to minimize the impact going forward, allowing you to know what will be required and being able to plan ahead.  

 

For more information and related resources, please visit NFPA’s “changes to the 2020 NEC” webpage.

We are often asked this question: if you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be? Personally, I think a present-day dinner conversation with Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and other pioneers of electricity would prove to be extremely interesting.  Inventors are charged with having extremely creative minds, thinking outside of the norm, and determining the what “could be.”   With all the collective creativity in their minds, could they even remotely imagine the ability we have today when it comes to electricity? We are, without question, an electrified world. 

 

According to the Enerdata Global Energy Statistical Yearbook 2020, power consumption between 2010 and 2019 has Cycle of Safetyincreased by 78%, with an average consumption increase of 3% per year. While the increase in 2019 was down from the norm at only 0.7%, there is little doubt that the 2020 data will be back to at least the 3% yearly average, likely more, due to the additional power being used due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, what does this all mean from an electricity standpoint? It means that, now more than ever, it is imperative that we continue to ensure safe electrical systems.   

 

While sipping my coffee and browsing an electrical forum on social media this morning, I came across a post from an electrician who had just put new tabs in his 2020 edition of the NEC and captioned it, “Tabbing my new book to keep the citizens of my town safe was so exciting, exhilarating, and satisfying.  NOTHING has come close. I dare you to ask me anything!”

 

The ownership and excitement in that post brought a huge smile to my face. “Keeping the citizens of my town safe”…it’s just that simple! Whether you are an engineer designing the electrical system, an electrician installing and/or maintaining the electrical system, or an inspector verifying a safely installed electrical system, we are all charged with the same duty – ensuring the safety of both people and property. 

 

While thinking of this responsibility from a singular perspective may seem daunting, the truth is, it takes a group effort. I've already mentioned the engineer, electrician, and inspectors’ roles in the safety of the electrical system. If one person in the process doesn't do their job properly, people and property could be put at risk.  Each person doing his/her job properly is paramount to ensuring safety. The good news is no one is in it alone.       

                   

NFPA is steadfast in providing codes and standards such as NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC) and NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance that assist in providing safe electrical systems for people and property.  But it doesn’t stop there. NFPA also takes it a step further by providing NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, which defines safe work practices to help ensure the safety of the individuals who are performing the installation and maintenance of the system. 

 

Much like the individuals in the process are reliant on one another for ensuring the utmost safety, these three NFPA documents are dependent on one another as well to ensure an electrical “Cycle of Safety.”  While each piece of the cycle covers a specific area, they must be used in unison in order to provide the safest electrical system possible, being installed in the safest manner. As I mentioned, NFPA 70B deals with electrical equipment maintenance, NFPA 70 (NEC) stipulates the installation rules that are necessary for a proper installation, and NFPA 70E provides the safe work practices necessary to ensure that the installation and maintenance is done safely by the individuals performing the work.  When the three are used simultaneously, and correctly, they provide for a complete electrical safety cycle.  When one or more pieces are missing, it leaves the door open for catastrophic accidents – even death. 

 

One of my favorite authors, Jon Gordon, preaches that intentional positivity creates a more positive life.  We can choose whether we let our responsibility in the” Cycle of Safety” be an intimidating task or, like the electrician that made the social media post, let it ignite the excitement within us for the opportunity we’ve been given to have a positive impact in the safety of others. For me, I’ll choose the latter. Remember, ensuring electrical safety takes a fully focused, collective effort from all of us.  As our NFPA tagline goes, “It’s a Big World. Let’s Protect It Together.”

It is common knowledge that electric shock itself has the potential to cause death. When it comes to electric shock drowning (ESD), electrical shock in the way we might normally think of it, such as stopping your heart from beating, is not necessarily what causes death. In many cases, current levels within the water that would typically be considered rather low, still have the ability to cause paralysis, which limits a person's ability to swim and in turn, causes them to drown. 

 

 

Such was the case recently when a mother and father lost not only one child, but two, in a recent boating incident in Lake Pleasant in Arizona. The article states that a thorough investigation took place at the scene with a group of experts and, with all facts gathered, it was determined that the two brothers lost their lives due to ESD. 

 

You can almost picture the scenario: man jumps into the marina water to cool off and begins to feel the effects of unforeseen current in the water; another man sees the first man is struggling to swim and jumps in to save him and is now susceptible to the unseen current; woman sees both men struggling to swim and jumps in to save them and is now impacted by that same unseen current… The cycle goes on and on until a person witnessing the cycle decides to end it, not by entering the water, but by using another means such as throwing a lifeline to those they see struggling, and shutting off any accessible sources of power such as at a power pedestal. The duration of the cycle will more than likely be a direct result of how many lives are lost or, at minimum, negatively impacted. So how do we shorten the cycle? Or better yet, how do we prevent the cycle from starting altogether?

 

Here are some tips that can help individuals avoid harm to themselves, or put others at risk, as a result of ESD:

 

  • Avoid swimming in marinas, boatyards, or areas where boats are docked in or travel through
  • Look for, and obey, posted signage
  • Have electrical work within boats and marinas performed only by licensed, qualified electricians
  • Use shore power cords intended for the purpose and built to UL standards
  • Have the electrical system on your boat tested annually by a qualified party to ensure it is working properly
  • NEVER modify the electrical system on your boat or shore power to make something that work that isn’t. The code required safety mechanisms that are in place are intended to tell you if something is wrong both with your boat and also with shore power. Find a licensed, qualified professional to help you determine the cause of the problem.

 

NFPA is dedicated to helping eliminate death and injury due to ESD. Watch NFPA’s latest “Learn Something New" video about the dangers of ESD above, put together by NFPA Journal Staff Writer, Angelo Verzoni. 

 

Find additional free information and resources to share by visiting NFPA's electrical safety around water webpage. 

NFPA 70B

 

For those of us who utilize NFPA 70National Electrical Code (NEC) and NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, on a regular basis, we know the importance that the NEC plays when it comes to the installation of safe electrical systems and the safe work practices that 70E provides, allowing us to perform those installations and maintenance, safely.

 

But there’s a third document that’s key to this equation: NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, which covers equipment maintenance. 70B offers guidelines for maintaining equipment after the initial installation is done and regular usage begins to impose wear and tear on the equipment. While each document covers a specific area, by using them together, it helps provide the safest electrical system possible while maintaining a safe working environment for those performing the necessary tasks. For example, NFPA 70B deals with electrical equipment maintenance, the NEC stipulates the installation rules necessary for a proper installation, and NFPA 70E addresses safe work practices needed to help ensure that the installation and maintenance are done safely. When the three are used in concert, and correctly, they provide for a complete electrical safety cycle. When one or more pieces are missing, it may leave the door open to catastrophic accidents—even death.

 

To help workers navigate this “cycle of safety,” NFPA has developed a new NFPA 70B fact sheet that explains its purpose and highlights its relationship to related codes and standards. It also points out key chapters and the value of an effective electrical preventative maintenance program (EPM).

 

 

Learn more about NFPA 70B by downloading the free fact sheet. For additional information, visit NFPA’s document information webpage.

 

If you missed last week’s NEC Facebook Live event, you can still catch the video with host Derek Vigstol and two special guests, Jim Dollard and Tom Domitrovich who discussed, “The Electrical Safety Cycle: NFPA 70, NFPA 70E & NFPA 70B.” Visit the NEC Facebook page to see the discussion.

 

 

NEC

 

For those of us that employ NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC) on a regular basis we understand the importance the NEC plays when it comes to the installation of safe electrical systems. In the early pages of the standard its purpose is clearly stated as the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity. The purpose of the NEC could never be accomplished without the proper application of Article 250 – Grounding and Bonding. 

 

While all of Article 250 is crucial to a safe installation, many installation errors evolve from incorrectly using the tables that size grounding electrode conductors, bonding jumpers, and equipment grounding conductors.  Whether you are an engineer designing the job, and electrician doing the installation, or an inspector verifying a correct installation, applying these tables in Article 250 is paramount to ensuring the safety of both persons and property.

 

To help workers understand the crucial role these tables hold in a safe electrical system, NFPA created a new fact sheet that walks you through the proper application of the following tables within Article 250:

 

  • Table 250.66 - Grounding Electrode Conductor for Alternating-Current Systems
  • Table 250.102(C)(1) - Grounding Conductor, Main Bonding Jumper, and Supply-Side Bonding Jumper for Alternating-Current Systems
  • Table 250.122 – Minimum Size Equipment Grounding Conductors for Grounding Raceway and Equipment

 

For more information on grounding and bonding within Article 250, join us on the NEC Facebook page this Friday, July 17th at 3:30PM EST as the NEC goes live (#NECLive) to discuss: The Top 10 Grounding and Bonding Questions. Additional information about grounding and bonding is available on our website.

 

For more information related to the NEC, please visit NFPA’s electrical solutions webpage.

NFPA is pleased to announce the start of a new weekly NEC Facebook “LIVE” event (#NECLive).

 

Be sure to like our page and join us on Fridays at 3:30 pm (EST) where NFPA staff members and industry experts discuss the NEC and relevant electrical topics. If you don’t already follow our NEC Facebook page, you can find us here.  electrical

 

The Facebook LIVE events are a great opportunity for individuals who work in the electrical industry to gain valuable insight, offer input, and connect with peers on a local, state, and even global level on issues that matter most to them on the job. Recent topics have included electric shock drowning (ESD) and the NEC public input process. 

 

If you can’t join us during the live event, our videos are recorded and available for viewing on our page.

 

Next up: tune in Friday, July 10 at 3.30 pm (EST) as we discuss this week’s topic - The Electrical Safety Cycle: NFPA 70, NFPA 70E, and NFPA 70B. Got an idea for a topic for an upcoming Live event? Let us know! Leave a comment below or tell us on the NEC Facebook page.

 

For additional information about the NEC and related codes and standards, visit our electrical solutions webpage on the NFPA website.

electrical safety month

“It’s the most wonderful time, of the yearrrr…”  Yes, it’s technically not Christmas, and I certainly can’t carry a tune like Andy Williams, but gifts are in abundance this time of year if you know where to look for them. Birds singing, flowers blooming, gardens growing - these are just some of things that most people come to enjoy during the springtime months.  

 

But for those of us who work with and around electricity, May brings us a different kind of gift in the form of National Electrical Safety Month. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety at home and in the workplace, promotes this campaign every year that focuses on educating key audiences on the steps that can be taken to reduce the number of electrically-related fires, fatalities, injuries, and property loss.   

 

I know what you’re thinking, “How can Electrical Safety Month be considered a gift?”  For those who don’t quite see that yet, let me explain further. This gift isn’t typical. It does not come with a gift receipt and you can't return it. You either accept it, or you don’t. It is, however, a “one size fits all” kind of present. When accepted, this gift continues to keep on giving, mostly in the form of arriving home daily after work, kissing your spouse, and receiving those amazing “Mommy’s home!” or “Daddy’s home!” hugs from your children. You know - the things that matter most to you.   

 

Being able to work daily in and around electricity in a safe manner allows us and our coworkers to return home unharmed to our loved ones at the end of every shift. It is my personal belief that safety can only happen with three key components all working together in unison: knowledge, application, and responsibility (KAR).  

 

Knowledge is provided through adequate training. Application comes through applying the training that was received and following a well-designed Electrical Safety Program (ESP). So, who is responsible for driving the KAR down Electric Avenue (go ahead and sing it, I know you want to) everyday? Both employers and employees have a shared responsibility to one another for ensuring workplace safety:   

 

  • KNOWLEDGE - Employers must provide, at minimum, the training required for the employee to do their job safely. Employees must accept, and fully understand, the training provided. Employers and employees should work together to create an ESP that meets the needs of the job and is fully understood by all parties.

 

  • APPLICATION – Employees must apply the knowledge that they have received and the ESP to their everyday tasks without taking shortcuts or skipping processes. If job tasks or conditions change where employees recognize they don’t have proper training to do the job safely, or is not defined within the ESP, they must speak up to their employer and get proper training before doing the task.

 

  • RESPONSIBILITY – Employers and employees have a shared accountability to one another. Employers must provide the training necessary, develop an ESP for employees to follow, continually listen to employee concerns and, when necessary, be willing to sacrifice profits for safety. Employees must apply their knowledge and training every day, without taking shortcuts, as well as speak up when they do not have proper training or understanding. If either party fails to provide or follow these guidelines, the safety of all will be lost.

 

The KAR acronym and associated thoughts behind it are mine and mine alone. They are by no means implied to be anything other than a mechanism that I have found to help me personally understand over the past 25+ years what’s necessary for electrical safety to work. 

 

Employers should seek out training and workplace guidelines from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements and recognized industry standards such as NFPA 70EStandard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. The purpose of NFPA 70E is to provide a practical safe working area for employees relative to the hazards arising from the use of electricity.  It is an internationally accepted American National Standard that provides safety policies, procedures, and process controls for installation as well as maintenance. Article 110 of NFPA 70E also offers insight into the critical components of a well-designed, effective ESP.  While not typically adopted legislatively, NFPA 70E is utilized by employers to help fulfill OSHA obligations and as a means to ensure the safety of the businesses most valued asset, their employees.     

 

Although what drives it may change, few people ever lose the wonder and excitement that go along with Christmas morning. As children, we live for waking up way earlier than we typically would to run down the stairs and see what Santa has placed under the tree. As parents, our pleasure comes from seeing the joy on the faces of our children. If safety is the gift, then NFPA 70E is the beautiful wrapping and bow that make it a gift. Without it, it's just a box. NFPA 70E makes electrical workplace safety what it is. And why does accepting the gift of safety matter? Because of the things that matter the most to you.

 

Learn more about NFPA 70E on NFPA's webpage.

 

 As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, pleasevisit our webpage. 

 

The sirens were deafening, even to my 13-year-old ears. My good friend, Heath, and I were playing an intense game of summer basketball in my driveway. The fact that I was losing and, as always, determined to win, should have been reason enough for my focus to be on the game. But it was impossible not to hear the sirens of the emergency vehicles rushing down our road and to begin wondering – “What’s going on? What happened? Where are they going?”electrical safety

 

Throwing down the basketball in my yard, I took off sprinting in the direction of Heath’s house. The paramedics had already begun to tend to Heath’s brother, Josh, who was lying motionless in the driveway. Their mother was outside, crying hysterically. Josh worked as a painter for a local contractor. Work was slow that summer so Josh had offered to repaint the exterior of his parents’ house. Scanning the area to try and make sense of it all, I noticed a couple of paint cans and an aluminum extension ladder on the driveway near Josh. Transitioning my eyes upward, it all began making sense. At this point, life experience was not my specialty but even my teenage brain could put the pieces together: Josh plus conductive aluminum ladder plus overhead power lines is equal to why Josh is lying in the driveway. Josh had received an electrical shock.

 

That day provided a life-lesson that I have carried with me every day of my nearly 30 years in the electrical industry, and I always will – electricity does not discriminate.

 

As we continue to raise awareness of electrical safety during National Electrical Safety Month, it’s important to note that electrical safety training is not just for electricians. Proper and adequate training is essential to the prevention of electrical related injuries to all personnel who are at risk. Is the plumber that is plugging his extension cord into a defective GFCI at risk? What about the carpenter using a saw with a broken male cord end? How about the painter using an aluminum ladder near overhead electrical lines? Non-electrical workers are exposed to many potential electrical hazards. OSHA Standard Number 1910.332(a) requires electrical training for employees who face risk of electrical shock. 1910.332(a) Note states that training is required for all occupations listed in Table S-4, and the second sentence goes on to state that employees not listed in Table S-4, but are reasonably expected to face the same risk due to electric shock or other electrical hazards, must also be trained. On a job site or within a facility, a case could certainly be made that many workers not listed within Table S-4 are just as susceptible to the same risks that electrical workers could potentially face.

 

According to data provided by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi), between 2003 and 2018, 54 percent of fatal electrical injuries occurred in the construction industry. That means that 46 percent of all electrical fatalities were outside of the construction industry or trades. This statistic alone speaks to the need for mitigating risk of exposure to electrical hazards through further training. NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace is a great resource for defining enforceable responsibilities for both employers and employees to protect against electrical hazards that employees might be exposed to. Developing and implementing an Electrical Safety Program (ESP) aligned with the responsibilities and training defined within 70E is a vital component in reducing the risk associated with electrical hazards. Employers and employees following the ESP, and holding one another accountable for doing so, is the other crucial piece in the electrical safety equation.    

 

Josh was a white male, brown hair, blue eyes, football fan, avid golfer, practical joker, painter, brother, son, father-to-be…so much more, and still - electricity didn’t care. The previous sentence was written in the past tense because Josh passed away from his injuries. All that he was, and all that he would be, died with him that day. A life cut way too short that brought his family so much heartache and pain. I know that Josh’s family isn’t the only family that has suffered. It’s extremely unfortunate that there are tens of thousands of others out there who know the story of Josh all too well and have been impacted by loss of their own. They may have been male or female, white or black, young or old, electrical workers or non-electrical workers. The differences among the victims are endless but one similarity rests with all of them – electricity didn’t discriminate. Loss of life is immeasurable, which in turn makes prevention priceless. Only through proper and adequate electrical training can we prevent the victims list from growing and, in some small way, honor those that have been lost. 

 

For additional information about electrical safety for a non-electrical audience, read the "NEC/In Compliance" column by Derek Vigstol in the September/October 2019 issue of NFPA Journal.

   

For more about NFPA 70E, visit NFPA’s electrical solutions webpage.

 

 

As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.

 

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