Arc Flash & Electrical Safety News

Blog Author Steve Hudgik

Friday, November 30, 2007

Removing the Confusion Over Electrical Standards

"Not sure whether to follow OSHA or National Electrical Code requirements for electrical safety at your construction site? Here is guidance to help you understand the differences in four controversial areas."

That is the subtitle for an article in Occupational Hazards Magazine. The article then defines the problem:

"Electrical safety on construction sites continues to be a major issue. While progress has been made over the years, electrical accidents continue to rank high on the list of construction accidents. In some areas of the country, they are the second leading cause of death or serious injury."

"One reason that electrical accidents occur is because of confusion between National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and OSHA requirements. Four areas in particular continue to spark controversy or are approached differently by different regulatory standards. There are ways to bring harmony to these four issues by providing recommendations to deal with the differences."

The four areas of confusion discussed in this article are:


For the first three of the above there are updated codes that apply in these areas that are more restrictive than what OSHA requires. For example while OSHA does allow open wiring under some circumstance, NEC 527.4(B) and (C) does not allow it. The article recommends using the stricter code requirements, not because they are stricter but because they are safer.

Arc flash is on the list because arc flash hazards tend to be ignored during construction. The article states:

"In the last few years, considerable progress has been made in industrial facilities after the owners take occupancy. It is during the construction phase that there is little or no attention to this hazard. In many of our code classes for construction electricians, the majority states that this is the first time they have heard about this issue."

The article points out that arc flash is a danger during construction and the requirements of NFPA 70E must be followed during construction.

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