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3 Posts authored by: channahs Employee

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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