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It’s that time of year that so many American sports fans relish, as the dark of winter recedes, the days grow longer, and our thoughts turn to a certain beloved warm-weather sport.

 

I’m talking, of course, about professional bike racing and the venerable spring classics: the pageantry and passion of the Tour of Flanders, the fearsome cobbles of Paris–Roubaix, the punchy hills of the trio of Ardennes races. It’s the time of the season dedicated to the truly hard men of the pro peloton, the rouleurs who embody what bike racing should be—gutsy, impulsive, risky, all-out—rather than the practitioners of the careful “marginal gains” approach who can make a three-week grand tour about as exciting as watching a very, very long baseball game.

 

Actually, wait a second—the beloved warm-weather sport I’m supposed to be addressing is baseball.

 

Sorry. My bad.

 

Today is opening day for Major League Baseball—the earliest opening in MLB history, apparently—and a lot is going on with the design, use, and safety features of the stadiums where all those games are played. That applies to baseball’s oldest stadium—Boston’s Fenway Park, which opened in 1912—as well as its newest: Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, which opened in 2017.

 

Stadiums host a wider range of events than ever before, from athletic contests to concerts to extreme-sport spectacles like the Red Bull Crashed Ice tour that transformed Fenway in February. Accordingly, stadiums and the people who manage them must be able to provide safe operation for a range of audiences across an assortment of facility configurations.

 

NFPA Journal has reported on the steps necessary to make this happen, most recently in our July/August 2018 issue that included a “Perspectives” conversation with Nick Dawe, a deputy fire marshal and captain with Cobb County (Georgia) Fire & Emergency Services. Dawe worked extensively with the Atlanta Braves organization, as well as the management of SunTrust Park, to establish fire and life safety benchmarks for the stadium, which is part of a large town-within-a-town complex that includes other concert venues, restaurants, bars, a brewery, shops, and office and residential space.

 

Coincidentally, that same issue included a “Looking Back” feature recounting a 1993 fire at a previous home of the Braves, Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium.

 

Finally, it’s worth noting again our 2012 story that detailed the decade-long renovation of Fenway, a process driven in large part by fire and life safety considerations. “At 100 years of age, Fenway is the nation’s oldest professional sports stadium currently in use and the smallest stadium in Major League Baseball,” author Steve Adelman wrote seven years ago. “While not perfect, its recent improvements have made it remarkably compliant with NFPA codes regarding life safety, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and emergency messaging. In a larger sense, Fenway’s modernization is a prism through which to view not just one important building’s rebirth, but also the growing importance of life safety in how people all across the country experience a day at the ballpark.”

 

And so another season is upon us. Play ball.

 

This week we mark one hundred and eight years since the disaster and tragedy known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. On March 25, 1911, fire spread through the cramped garment factory on the 8th, 9th and 10th floors of the Asch Building in lower Manhattan. The rapidly spreading fire killed 146 workers, many of whom were young women.

The building only had one fire escape and this inadequate means of egress collapsed during the rescue efforts. Workers were crushed in the panic as the fought to open locked doors and only a few water buckets were available to douse flames.

After the incident, the labor movement and other groups created a public outcry over what was clearly a preventable tragedy. There was a renewed sense of urgency toward creating safer working environments and improving the rights of women and immigrants at this time as well.

According to OSHA, “the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire remained the deadliest workplace tragedy in New York City’s History” until the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Read more from the 100th anniversary in NFPA Journal.

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives. 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. 

Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public. 

 

Stay up to date by signing up for NFPA Newsletters.

Vicki Christiansen, who became full time chief of the United States Forest Service last October, has one of the most challenging tasks in all of federal government. Her agency, more than any other, is responsible for addressing the US wildfire problem, which over the past few decades has been defined by trends headed in all of the wrong directions.

 

I spoke to Christiansen over the phone last December, just a month after the Camp Fire devastated northern California, killing more than 80 people and causing an estimated $10 billion in damage. Our conversation, which has been published in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal, led us through a wide range of thorny issues, including the Forest Service’s budget quandary and proposed fix, as well as the agency's detailed strategy to address the growing and complicated problem of wildfire in America. 

 

To read Christiansen's thoughts about the changing scope of wildfire in America and what to do about it, and to learn more about the the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, check out the Perspectives feature in the new NFPA Journal

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments to NFPA 86, Standard for Ovens and Furnaces; and NFPA 451, Guide for Community Health Care Programs, are being published for public review and comment:

 

  • NFPA 86, proposed TIA No. 1440, referencing 8.5.1.9(3) of the 2019 edition, public comment closing date: 4/29/2019
  • NFPA 451, proposed TIA No. 1441, referencing 3.3.51.1 and A.3.3.51.1(new), of the proposed 2020 edition, public comment closing date: 4/24/2019

 

Anyone maysubmit a comment  on these proposed TIAs by the comment closing dates listed above. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

marinas

Spring is right around the corner and after the winter that many of us have experienced, especially in the northern regions of this country, I know I’m not alone when I say that it can’t come soon enough! The snow will melt, the grass will grow, trees will bud, and people will flock to the water. But there is a hidden danger - electricity - in marinas and boatyards that many of us may not be aware of. So whether you own the marina or you're a contractor who services one, there are key safety steps that must be considered and acted upon.

 

As many of us know, electricity finds its way into the water through a myriad of ways and often can be deadly before an issue is noticed. However, many of the problems that can exist in and around docks and marinas can be prevented or mitigated. Actions can be taken to ensure that the equipment designed to keep us safe remains functional. Regular inspections, testing, and maintenance help to find deficiencies in the system and lifesaving equipment such as ground-fault circuit interrupters. When docks and marinas open up in the springtime they need to be ready to operate safely.

 

So what does this entail? Taking a deeper dive into the integrity of the electrical system before the boats arrive. What exactly should a marina owner be looking for? Where should they be looking and what should they be doing to make sure that the summer doesn’t start off in tragedy? The following are three considerations you must keep in mind:

 

            1. Test, test, and test some more!

Devices like GFCI receptacles and ground-fault protection circuit breakers always come with a recommendation from the manufacturer to test their functionality on a regular basis. Each device needs to be tested to ensure that it will work when it needs to work. Every manufacturer has their own process, but the basics are the same. Activate the test function, often a button with the word “TEST” on it, and verify that the circuit has indeed been interrupted. This can usually be accomplished without the need for fancy testing equipment, often a simple plug-in circuit tester is sufficient to show power is on and off after the “TEST” function of the receptacle or circuit breaker has been activated. It should be noted that it is important to use the provided test button and not one on a “tester” as the manufacturer put it there for a reason. Many manufacturers require the provided test button be used to verify operation of the unit, but you should check with your specific equipment as to what is allowed.

 

2. Check the physical condition of the wiring system

The shoreline of a body of water can be an unforgiving place and is brutally hard on electrical systems that are installed in and around the water. Raceways can come apart at fittings from movement due to waves, collisions with boats can damage wiring methods or shake loose connections, and moisture can wreak havoc on anything metal. And if your marina is close to the ocean, all of these issues can be far more exaggerated. So where to look? Wiring around expansion joints or where a dock or pier connects to a solid structure tend to be exposed to movement that is likely to separate conduits whether they are glued or mechanically connected. Another point in the system that is prone to damage is where conduits or other types of raceways connect to fixed equipment. For this reason, keep an eye out for raceways that have pulled loose from boxes and terminations around equipment like shore power outlets or lamp posts. Also, make sure that raceways are still adequately supported. Often the corrosive environments around water can lead to screws and fasteners rusting and falling apart. This can then put a strain on the raceway terminations and ultimately the conductors themselves.

 

3. Obtain a leakage current measurement device

A leakage current measurement device is a tool that every marina owner should have. In fact, per the 2020 National Electrical Code® these devices are required where there are more than three receptacles that supply shore power to boats. This allows the boats themselves to be tested to see how much current is leaking into the water from the boat. However, they will only work to prevent hazards from the boats if marina owners have them and use them.

 

So remember, inspecting electrical systems is the first line of defense against this silent killer that can turn fun into tragedy without warning. Testing the lifesaving devices like GFCI receptacles and GFP circuit breakers can ensure they operate when we need them the most. And having the right tools to determine where the problem is coming from can also help prevent problem boats from connecting to the electrical system and putting a hazard on your shores.

 

For additional, related information, please visit NFPA’s NEC webpage.

Attention to firefighter cancer in recent years has helped to encourage a variety of efforts aimed at reducing exposure to harmful contaminants.


While cancer understandably has a way of capturing attention, it is important to note that there are additional health effects associated with the toxins produced during firefighting operations, including kidney and liver disorders, neurodevelopmental effects, decreased fertility, respiratory disease, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and more.


Furthermore, not all fires emit the same level of contaminants, and not all firefighters at the scene experience the same degree of exposure. Research has found higher levels of contaminants on the turnout jackets of personnel assigned to inside attack and search duties post-fire than those assigned to overhaul and backup; however, overhaul activities also entail significant exposure to contaminants because contaminants can be disturbed and enter the breathing zone.


The bottom line is that decontamination is an emerging issue that requires commitments from everyone. Fire departments need to provide environments that support best practices, while firefighters and fire officers must also accept responsibility for reducing exposures and limiting risk.


Decontamination best practices and procedures have been shared by every major fire organization to date – but they bear repeating and sharing, over and over again. They demand commitment at the department level, ownership by first responders, and guidance at every turn by fire service leadership.


Financial resources and outdated protocols continue to hamper decontamination efforts at certain departments. For instance, not every department has the ability to purchase a second set of gear or secure proper laundering solutions; but there are a number of practices that can substantially reduce harm to firefighters. Here’s 15 that may just help save a life:

 

  1. Perform some decontamination before leaving the scene. For example, gross decontamination with an industrial scrub brush is an effective initial step to remove debris and contaminants. It should be followed by using a garden hose or low-volume fire hose to avoid contaminating personal areas of vehicles or the fire station.
  2. Clean face pieces every time they are used. Research has found contaminants on the inside of face pieces which can lead to concerning inhalation and skin contact hazards. At the fire scene, use disposable wipes for cleaning your mask.
  3. Tools and equipment should also go through gross decontamination before returning to the station in order to avoid cross contamination.
  4. Establish a personal hand washing station to be used onsite by connecting a simple diverter valve from the apparatus heat exchange to the pump panel. Stock with soap, towels, and disposable wipes.
  5. Wear under gloves and glove liners when removing and handling contaminated gear to protect your hands from absorbing toxins on PPE and equipment.
  6. To avoid cross-contamination, remove, seal and store turnout gear, including PPE, boots, gloves, masks, and helmets, in large, leak-proof plastic bags in a designated turnout compartment (separate from the cab) before entering vehicles.
  7. If possible, avoid taking your gear home or storing PPE in personal vehicles. When this isn’t possible, as is often the case for volunteer firefighters, gear should be bagged or stored in containers and stowed outside personal space or vehicles.
  8. Open bags of gear and equipment outside the station for proper off-gassing.
  9. Prioritize decontamination laundering.
  10. Shower as soon as possible following exposure.
  11. Ensure that local exhaust ventilation systems (including those that attach to apparatus to capture diesel exhaust) are in place to reduce contaminants within the station.
  12. If your station has a laundry extractor, avoid mixing contaminated gear with less contaminated gear to reduce cross-contamination.
  13. Store decontaminated ensembles in dedicated, well-ventilated areas at the station.
  14. Wear alternate footwear inside the station to reduce contamination of indoor areas from footwear worn at the scene.
  15. Share these important steps with other crew members, and hold yourself and others accountable for doing all that you can to reduce occupational exposure to hazardous contaminants.

 

NFPA has had the backs of the fire service for more than a century. To help reduce firefighter exposure to harmful toxins on the scene, in department apparatus, at the firehouse and in personal spaces, please refer to our research, standards, and resources.

 

With historic flooding in the Missouri River and Mississippi River basins that have plagued the Midwest in the past few days, NFPA offers a timely resource in its hybrid/electric vehicle safety bulletin. The bulletin is designed to ensure that emergency responders and public safety officers are informed and safe when dealing with vehicles that are submerged or have been submerged in water. It was first introduced in response to the devastating floods and coastal surges that Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma produced in Texas, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in 2017.

 

NFPA's Alternative Fuel Vehicles Safety Training Program is the internationally recognized leader in emergency responder alternative fuel vehicle safety information and knowledge. NFPA maintains a collection of emergency response guides from more than 30 alternative fuel vehicle manufacturers, and offers emergency responders a best practices Emergency Field Guide, alternative fuel vehicle safety training information, relevant content, toolkits and videos like the one below.

 

 

 

Additional, related information can be found on NFPA's alternative fuel vehicle safety training webpage.

 

In December, several NFPA staff members got together to discuss a trend that's been making headlines in the construction industry: modular construction. From hotels to high-rise residential buildings, modular construction is becoming increasingly popular in the United States (it's been popular for a while in Europe). 

 

But the method—which entails prefabricating units, or modules, in a factory before shipping them to a construction site, where they're stacked together to form a full-sized building—caused folks at NFPA to take pause, and questions about modular construction safety and regulation swirled. How do inspections work? How are codes enforced across state or even country lines?

 

After the meeting, I and other NFPA staff members embarked on a mission to get to the bottom of things, and out of that work came a new feature article in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal, "Outside the Box," as well as a new video produced by NFPA Journal.

 

The video, titled "What is modular construction?," is the first in a series of planned videos called Learn Something New (LSN), which will run on the second Wednesday of every month on NFPA's YouTube channel and explore topics related to fire, electrical, and life safety hazards. LSN is targeted toward a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) student audience.

 

Essentially, the modular construction industry is regulated through a combination of language incorporated into state or local building codes, as well as self-inspection by the companies who fabricate modules.

 

Watch the video below, and learn more at nfpa.org/modular

 

Historic flooding in the Missouri River and Mississippi River basins has plagued the Midwest in recent days. While Nebraska and Iowa are seeing the worst of the flooding, still more rivers in six states at over 40 different locations have reached record levels.

 

In response to this crisis, NFPA is offering a timely video resource to help contractors in these areas assess electrical equipment that has been exposed to water through flooding. The video is part of NFPA’s popular and ongoing NFPA Live series and appeared in September 2017. During this live video event, host Gil Moniz, a former Senior Electrical Specialist at NFPA, answered follow-up questions submitted through the commenting tool.

 

The presentation provides information on how to assess electrical equipment that has been exposed to water through flooding. Moisture from flood water or contaminates in the water may affect the reliability and functionality of electrical equipment. Electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely hazardous and must be properly assessed before it can be put back into service.

 


 

NFPA has additional, related information on this topic including NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, which provides a useful framework for recovering electrical equipment and systems after a disaster.

 

This NFPA Live has now ended. If you have further questions on this topic please submit a question through our Members' Only Technical Question service. If you are having trouble viewing this video there is an alternative version here.

 

Hazardous areas in buildings aren’t just those with high-hazard contents—a building’s areas, the materials stored in those areas, and the hazard of those materials are all factors in determining the level of protection according to NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®.

 

That’s one of a handful of timely code-related topics covered in the “In Compliance” department of the new March/April 2019 NFPA Journal, out now.

 

“Evaluating a hazardous area is relative and situational,” writes Kristin Bigda, P.E., a principal fire protection engineer at NFPA. “What constitutes a hazardous area in one occupancy may not be considered a hazardous area in another … The confusion often lies with the concept that a hazardous area is determined not just by the contents or materials in it, by also by the relative hazard of the space compared to the overall hazard of the occupancy. Understanding this distinction is critical to properly applying the code and isolating a fire within that space.”

 

The new “In Compliance” also includes a look at how new fire alarm systems must meet requirements contained throughout the entire NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®, not just pieces of the code. Our article on NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, helps readers understand when they need to replace sprinklers and what their sprinkler cabinets should contain. And our piece on NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®, looks at the issue of electrical load calculations in the 2020 edition of the NEC®.

 

The March/April issue of NFPA Journal is available in print, online, and through our NFPA Journal mobile apps for Apple and Android devices.

 

The NFPA Standards Council considered the issuance of a proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) on NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®; NFPA 291, Recommended Practice for Fire Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants; and NFPA 1964, Standard for Spray Nozzles and Appliances.  These three TIAs were issued by the Council on February 28, 2019:

  • NFPA 72, TIA 19-2, referencing 2.3.2, I.1.2.2, and various other sections, 2019 edition
  • NFPA 291, TIA 19-1, referencing Equations a and b, 2019 edition
  • NFPA 1964, TIA 18-1, referencing Title, 4.7(title, 4.15(title), 5.5.(title), and 5.5.1, 2018 edition

Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) are amendments to an NFPA Standard processed in accordance with Section 5 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. They have not gone through the entire standards development process of being published in a First Draft Report and Second Draft Report for review and comment. TIAs are effective only between editions of the Standard. A TIA automatically becomes a public input for the next edition of the Standard, as such is then subject to all of the procedures of the standards development process.  TIAs are published in NFPA News, NFCSS, and any further distribution of the Standard after being issued by the Standards Council.

On March 21, 1934, the city of Hakodate, Japan was overwhelmed by a conflagration that destroyed more than half of the city’s buildings and caused the loss of more than two thousand lives.

While fires and conflagrations were not unusual in the seaside community, the weather conditions that occurred on this particular date made this incident particularly tragic. There was a heavy rain that day that later changed to snow. As the afternoon progressed the snow was accompanied by a gradually increasing southwest wind which reached more than 60 miles per hour by 6pm. Added to these conditions were short circuits in the city lighting system.

From NFPA Quarterly v. 28, no. 2 (1934):

“The fire had its origin on the second floor of a two-story wooden building occupied by a Shinto priest in the southeastern part of the city. It is supposed to have been caused by burning embers from an open fireplace, which was exposed when the roof of the house was blown off by the wind. This section of the city is in a low place and the fire was first observed from the fire tower at the fire brigade headquarters more than a mile away, although there were street fire alarm boxes installed in the immediate vicinity. Three engines and three hose trucks were dispatched to the scene of the fire as promptly as possible. Some delay was experienced, however, due to the fact that most of the men and equipment of the brigade were engaged at fires caused by the short circuiting of electric wires in various other parts of the city…

Because of the direction of the wind at the start of the fire many people made their escape to Omori Beach, where they were trapped when the wind suddenly shifted toward the west. About 550 persons were burned, drowned or frozen when the fire overtook them at this point.

The greatest loss of life occurred at Shinkawa when the three bridges which spanned the Shinkawa River burned or broke under the weight of the panic-striken throngs. This cut off all escape to the north and 600 persons burned to death in this areas. Severe loss of life also occurred in the section burned at Takamori-cho, at Sunayama-cho some 400 persons who could not pass the mountain were all burned to death and at Shinkawa Beach 120 were burned, drowned, or frozen to death.”

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives. 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. 

Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public. 

 

Stay up to date by signing up for NFPA Newsletters.

One of the most notable features about NFPA’s standards development process is that it is a full, open, consensus-based process that encourages public participation in the development of its standards. A great way for your voice to be heard is to submit a Public Input (a suggested revision to a new or existing NFPA standard) during a Standard’s revision cycle. It is 100% free, easy, and done through our online submission system.


The following Standards are accepting public input for their next revision cycle:

  • NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems
  • NFPA 45, Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals
  • NFPA 52, Vehicular Natural Gas Fuel Systems Code
  • NFPA 59A, Standard for the Production, Storage, and Handling of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
  • NFPA 67, Guide on Explosion Protection for Gaseous Mixtures in Pipe Systems
  • NFPA 69, Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems
  • NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance
  • NFPA 82, Standard on Incinerators and Waste and Linen Handling Systems and Equipment
  • NFPA 85, Boiler and Combustion Systems Hazards Code
  • NFPA 211, Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
  • NFPA 253, Standard Method of Test for Critical Radiant Flux of Floor Covering Systems Using a Radiant Heat Energy Source
  • NFPA 262, Standard Method of Test for Flame Travel and Smoke of Wires and Cables for Use in Air-Handling Spaces
  • NFPA 265, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Room Fire Growth Contribution of Textile or Expanded Vinyl Wall Coverings on Full Height Panels and Walls
  • NFPA 276, Standard Method of Fire Test for Determining the Heat Release Rate of Roofing Assemblies with Combustible Above-Deck Roofing Components
  • NFPA 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components
  • NFPA 350, Guide for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work
  • NFPA 402, Guide for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Operations
  • NFPA 701, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films
  • NFPA 900, Building Energy Code
  • NFPA 914, Code for the Protection of Historic Structures
  • NFPA 1003, Standard for Airport Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1005, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Marine Fire Fighting for Land-Based Fire Fighters
  • NFPA 1041, Standard for Fire and Emergency Services Instructor Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1091, Standard for Traffic Incident Management Personnel Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1402, Standard on Facilities for Fire Training and Associated Props
  • NFPA 1600, Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management
  • NFPA 1963, Standard for Fire Hose Connections
  • NFPA 1975, Standard on Emergency Services Work Apparel
  • NFPA 2400, Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Used for Public Safety Operations 


To submit a public input using the online submission system, go directly to the specific document information page by selecting the links above or by using the search feature on the List of NFPA codes & standards. Once on the document page, select the link "Submit a Public Input" to begin the process. You will be asked to sign-in or create a free online account with NFPA before using this system.


We are here to assist! If you have any questions when using the system, a chat feature is available or contact us by email or phone at 1-800-344-3555.

 

Public input is a suggested revision to a proposed new or existing NFPA Standard submitted during the Input stage in accordance with Section 4.3 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards.

The March 2019 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.

In this issue:

  • New project on Fire Service Analysts and Informational Technical Specialists Professional Qualifications
  • 2019 edition of the Glossary of Terms
  • Proposed Tentative Interim Amendments seeking comments on NFPA 13, NFPA 14, NFPA 58, NFPA 101, and NFPA 1981
  • NFPA 35 and NFPA 36
  • Committees seeking members
  • Committees seeking public input and public comment
  • Committee meetings calendar

Subscribe today! NFPA News is a free, monthly codes and standards newsletter that includes special announcements, notification of public input and comment closing dates, requests for comments, notices on the availability of Standards Council minutes, and other important news about NFPA’s standards development process.

As you know, NFPA 70E®Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® does not determine what normal operation of your equipment entails. NFPA 70E details the normal operating conditions necessary before someone can safely operate that equipment. So, in that regard, which of these do you consider to be normal operation of the equipment?

  1. Flipping a light switch in an office.
  2. Placing a light bulb into a socket.
  3. Opening a motor disconnect.
  4. Placing an ammeter into a circuit to measure current.
  5. Operating a circuit breaker in a panelboard after opening the hinged cover.
  6. Placing a fuse into a fuse holder.
  7. Replacing a ballast in a luminaire.
  8. Placing an appliance plug into a receptacle.
  9. Pushing an emergency stop on equipment.
  10. Racking a circuit breaker out of a cabinet.
  11. Plugging a circuit breaker into a panelboard.
  12. Replacing a damaged receptacle.
  13. Pulling conductors through rigid metal conduit.
  14. Programming a variable frequency drive.

Remember that the tasks you consider to be “normal operation” of the equipment should be able to be done while energized and without the need to use personal protective equipment (PPE). If you are required to use PPE it generally means that the equipment is not under normal operating conditions and therefore, the task is not normal operation. Opting not to wear PPE while performing a task does not make the task “normal operation.” Here in the United States of America, it is not believed that equipment meeting the normal operating condition requirements is inherently unsafe to the person properly operating the equipment. No interaction would be permitted with any electrical equipment if it were. Pulling the trigger on a hand tool, using a computer, charging a cell phone, or playing a video game would pose risks and hazards that could cause injury. Such a condition would require PPE for all of those tasks. Only qualified persons could perform those tasks. Luckily, society has agreed that such precautions are not necessary. 

All the tasks listed are necessary for the equipment to function as designed. I am pretty sure you will find manufacturer’s instructions that include the above tasks or the equipment is specifically designed to permit performance of the task. And if it is in the instructions or if the equipment is designed to do it, does that make the task normal operation of that equipment? Your decision to deem something to be “normal operation” plays a big part in protecting employees from injury. I am not going to state which of the above tasks are normal operation. That is not my call. That is not NFPA 70E’s call. It is your call.

For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange

Want to keep track of what is happening with the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) Subscribe to the NEC Connect newsletter to stay informed of new content. The newsletter also includes NFPA 70E information such as my blogs.

Next time: Elimination of an electrical hazard.

Please Note: Any comments, suggested text changes, or technical issues related to NFPA Standards posted or raised in this communication are not submissions to the NFPA standards development process and therefore will not be considered by the technical committee(s) responsible for NFPA Standards development.  To learn how to participate in the NFPA standards development process and submit proposed text for consideration by the responsible technical committee(s), please go to www.nfpa.org/submitpi for instructions.

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