Don't miss Schneider Electric's Design Engineer Seminar

This is the last opportunity of 2018 to see the constantly evolving Schneider Electric Technology Center in St. Louis!

Join the Schneider team for an interactive and hands on education session. This includes lab time and break out of electrical and mechanical sessions, the latest in critical power and cooling trends, industrial applications, prefabricated data centers, and helpful design tools that will keep you on the cutting edge of the latest technologies.

8 PDH credits given at each complimentary seminar.

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Important FAQ about Arc Flash protection Clothing

What you need to know:

What does 8 cal mean when people say, ‘8 cal shirt or garment’?

This term is really an abbreviation of, or slang for, 8 calories/cm², which are the units of measurement of an arc rating. If someone is saying they need an “8 cal” flame resistant (FR) fabric or garment, what they might really be saying they need is an arc rating of at least 8 calories/cm² or greater to meet a personal protective equipment (PPE) Category 2 requirement as defined by standard NFPA 70E. However, the PPE Category 2 level of protection only starts at 8 calories/cm² and goes up to 25 calories/cm², or PPE Category 3. Obviously, the difference in protection at 8 and 24 calories/cm² is significant, so it’s important to conduct your risk assessment prior to specifying a protection level and to understand that PPE Category 2 is a broad statement.

Is it ok to use fabric softener on FR clothing?

The laundering instructions for all FR and arc rated fabrics prohibit use of fabric softeners because most softeners are flammable and will accrete (build up) on the garment over time. The fabric is still FR, but now a flammable contaminant has been added to the surface and can be ignited by a flash fire or arc flash.

Can you use bug repellent with FR clothing?

When applying insect repellents to garments, a waterborne, permethrin-based insect repellent has been shown in testing to not have an adverse effect on flame resistance. However, it is not recommended to use DEET or DEET-containing insect repellents on any FR fabrics. DEET and DEET-containing insect repellents can be flammable, and therefore, have an adverse effect on the flame resistance of FR garments. It is important to note that DEET and DEET-containing insect repellents do not remove or destroy the flame resistance of fabrics, but they mask it. Once the garment is laundered and the DEET and DEET-containing insect repellents are removed, the flame resistance is still intact.

Is it possible to buy one uniform that protects against both arc flash and flash fire?

Yes, there are fabrics that protect against multiple hazards. However, it’s important to remember that not every fabric does. As you’re putting together your FR clothing program, make sure you discuss your hazards with your supplier and you know the FR fabric brand used to make your garments.

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Hot Topics: Arc Ratings, NFPA 70E, & More

Is it ok to use fabric softener on FR clothing? Is it possible to buy a uniform that protects against both arc flash and fire? What does 8 cal mean when people say, ‘8 cal shirt or garment’?

In our all-new FAQS, industry technical experts address the questions surrounding the hottest topics of 2018: NFPA 70E, Arc Ratings, and FR.

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Arc Flash Accidents

Take the time to read through these Forensic Casebook ar­ticles to help enhance practical safety les­sons for your own employees, using these case studies as a training resource for “what not to do.”

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Safer by Design: Arc Energy Reduction Techniques

There are inherent risks associated with working with energized electrical equipment. Even inspecting electrical equipment can expose employees to shock and other risks.

To enhance safety, work on electrical systems should be performed when those systems are de-energized.

Additionally, Zone Selective Interlock (ZSI) technology protects equipment by intelligently selecting faster trip times in coordinated systems, an advantage which can keep operators safe and productive. Learn more by reading this whitepaper.

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Eaton Issues Recall for Heavy Duty 30A and 60A Safety Switches

Eaton Heavy Duty Safety Switch Recall 0

Safety switches can potentially supply power when the handle is in the “off” position









Power management company Eaton has issued a product safety bulletin for certain Eaton Heavy Duty 30A and 60A Safety Switches intended for use in heavy commercial, utility, and industrial applications.

The safety switches referenced in the bulletin can potentially supply power when the handle is in the “off” position, subjecting the operator of the switch or any downstream equipment to risk of serious bodily injury or death. The company is not aware of any injuries at this time resulting from this issue,

The safety switches affected by the potential nonconformance were manufactured between Nov. 19, 2015, and Jan. 23, 2018, and primarily sold in the United States and Canada.

For more information related to the recall, visit www.eaton.com/hdss-advisorybulletin, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call Eaton’s Technical Resource Center at 1-877-ETN-CARE.


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Global Surge Protection Devices (SPD) Market Analysis By Technological Advancement, Regional Outlook And Forecast to 2026

The new research from MarketResearch.Biz on Global Surge Protection Devices (SPD) Market Report for 2018 destined to provide target audience with the latest information on Surge Protection Devices market with the help of refined data and opinions from Surge Protection Devices industry experts. The information included in the Surge Protection Devices research report is well-organized and a report is assembled by industry professionals and experts in the Surge Protection Devices field to make sure the quality of research.

The Surge Protection Devices analysis is backed by intensive and detailed secondary research that involves respect to numerous applied Surge Protection Devices static databases, national government documentation, pertinent patent and Surge Protection Devices administrative databases, latest news articles, Surge Protection Devices press releases, company yearly reports, financial reports, and range of internal and external Surge Protection Devices proprietary databases. This evaluated information is cross-checked with Surge Protection Devices business consultants from numerous leading firms within the Surge Protection Devices market. When the complete authentication method is done, the Surge Protection Devices reports are shared with Surge Protection Devices industry professionals for adding additional data and values and to earn their perceptive opinion on the Surge Protection Devices analysis. With such sturdy method of information extraction, Surge Protection Devices verification, and closing, we have a tendency to firmly endorse the standard of our Surge Protection Devices analysis. With such intensive and detailed analysis and thorough coverage of Surge Protection Devices data, it’s always a probability of clients finding their desired Surge Protection Devices (data within the report with an enclosure of key elements and valuable statistics in all consideration.

Get Free Sample Copy Of Report @ https://marketresearch.biz/report/surge-protection-devices-spd-market/request-sample

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Understanding the IEEE Standard 1547 Revision

In February 2018, IEEE 1547-2018 was approved. This new standard has a significant impact on the design and deployment of all DER systems, removes limitations from the original standard, and adds requirements for “smart inverters.” Are you prepared for these changes?

The IEEE Standard 1547 was created to establish a technical standard for interconnecting distributed energy resources (DER) with electrical power systems (EPSs). As technology became more sophisticated, the grid started experiencing increased levels of penetration. In order to maintain bulk system reliability long-term, 1547 was revised to establish new DER requirements.

The new revision, IEEE 1547-2018, is changing the testing standards for critical power-generation systems to create harmonized interconnection requirements and offer flexibility in performance requirements.

ComRent’s latest white paper Understanding the IEEE Standard 1547 Revision explains the changes implemented by the new standard and what you need to know to stay compliant.

Read or download the white paper here>

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Microsoft: Don't Use Surge Protectors With Xbox One X, One S

Typically, when you hook up something as valuable as an Xbox One X you want to surge protect it. But Microsoft tells owners not to.

If you go out and purchase expensive electronic devices that require a power outlet to function, another key purchase is surge protection. This usually comes in the form of a power strip with surge protection built-in or a single outlet protector. They bring piece of mind and protect your gadgets. However, Microsoft does not want you to use one with the Xbox One X or One S.

That may sound crazy, but Microsoft does have a legitimate reason why and only itself to blame for not making it clearer to new Xbox One X ($483.00 at Amazon) or One S owners. It turns out both consoles have a built-in surge protector so they are protected without need of a separate device. If you decide to use one anyway, chances are your Xbox won't even turn on.
As Microsoft's Xbox support page explains, if you plug either Xbox One into a surge protected outlet, the console is not capable of reaching the full power draw it needs for "optimal performance." To the user, that presents as a broken Xbox, but it's really just the use of two surge protectors causing the problem.

This may be a more difficult fix than it first seems. If your entire setup is running off surge protected power strips it means buying a new unprotected cable, installing that, and hooking your Xbox up to it. That's an extra cost and some painful cable management depending on how many devices you have sat under your TV.

If you have already tried powering up your Xbox and nothing happened because of this double surge protection problem, your console may need a power reset. That's easy to do, simply unplug the console power cord, remove the external surge protection, wait 10 seconds, then plug the Xbox back in and press the Xbox button. The console should boot as normal.

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10 Things about Arc Flash Safety

10 Arc Falsh

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Proposed NFPA Standards for Electrical Inspections In the Works

Electrical Inspector GettyImages 177311145 1024

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has two new standards in the works related to electrical inspections and the inspectors who perform them.

The NFPA Technical Committee on Electrical Inspections began work on the proposed standards a year and a half ago. NFPA 78: Guide on Electrical Inspections, and NFPA 1078: Standard for Electrical Inspector Professional Qualifications, both received public input through mid-February this year, and the technical committee is working now on finalizing the first draft of the standards, according to Jeff Sargent, Regional Electrical Code Specialist at NFPA, in a live seminar this afternoon.

The first drafts of the two proposed standards will be released Aug. 22, 2018. If there are no amendments the committee expects to have the final standard by August 2019. If there are certified amendments, the standards will go through a second draft process and be released in August 2020, Sargent said.

He added that the Technical Committee on Electrical Inspections is still looking for more committee members.

NFPA members can find more information, including applications to join the committee, at the NFPA site:

NFPA 78: Guide on Electrical Inspections

NFPA 1078: Standard for Electrical Inspector Professional Qualifications


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The 10 Biggest Grounding Mistakes to Avoid

There’s more to proper grounding and bonding than meets the eye. When tackling this type of work, the end goal is obviously to prevent unwanted voltage on non-current-carrying metal objects and facilitate the correct operation of overcurrent devices. But that doesn’t mean wiring everything to a ground rod and calling it a day. In order to provide safe installations to the public, there are certain subtleties you must follow in order to meet applicable NEC rules.

Proper grounding and bonding prevent unwanted voltage on non-current-carrying metal objects, such as tool and appliance casings, raceways, and enclosures, as well as facilitate the correct operation of overcurrent devices. But beware of wiring everything to a ground rod and considering the job well done. There are certain subtleties you must follow to adhere to applicable NEC rules and provide safe installations to the public and working personnel. Although ground theory is a vast subject, on which whole volumes have been written, let's take a look at some of the most common grounding errors you may run into on a daily basis.


Failure to Install a Second Ground Rod Where Required

A single ground rod that does not have a resistance to ground of 25 ohms or less must be augmented by a second ground rod. Once the second ground rod is installed, it's not necessary for the two to meet the resistance requirement. As a practical matter, few electricians do the resistance measurement and simply drive a second ground rod. If you install a second rod you must locate it at least 6 feet away from the first rod. Greater distance is even better. If both rods and the bare ground electrode conductor connecting them are directly under the drip line of the roof, ground resistance will be further diminished. This is because the soil along this line is more moist. Ground resistance greatly increases when soil becomes dry.


Installation of a Satellite Dish Without Proper Grounding

If you look at all of the satellite dish installations out there, you’ll inevitably find many that are not grounded. Of those that are, there is still a good chance that the installation is not fully compliant. Common mistakes installers should avoid include making the grounding electrode conductor too long or too short, using unlisted clamps at terminations, having excess bends, or connecting to a single ground rod but not bonding to other system grounds. The grounding means for a satellite dish must be located at the point of entrance to the building. In this particular installation, the grounding conductor is integral with the coax from the dish, but the installer did not bond it to other system grounds.


Improperly Connecting the Equipment-Grounding Conductor to the System Neutral

The grounded conductor (white) and the grounding conductor (bare or green) should not be connected together except by the main bonding jumper in the service equipment. You must connect a grounded neutral conductor to normally noncurrent-carrying metal parts of equipment, raceways, and enclosures only through the main bonding jumper (or, in the case of a separately derived system, through a system bonding jumper). Make this connection at the service disconnecting means, not downstream. It's a major error to install a main bonding jumper in a box used as a subpanel fed by a 4-wire feeder. It's also wrong not to install it when the panel is used as service equipment.


Failure to Properly Attach the Ground Wire to Electrical Devices

Wiring daisy-chained devices in such a way that removing one of them breaks the equipment grounding continuity is a common problem among electricians. The preferred way to ground a wiring device is to connect incoming and outgoing equipment-grounding conductors to a short bare or green jumper. The bare or green insulated jumper is then connected to the grounding terminal of the device.


Failure to Properly Attach the Ground Wire to Electrical Devices

Wiring daisy-chained devices in such a way that removing one of them breaks the equipment grounding continuity is a common problem among electricians. The preferred way to ground a wiring device is to connect incoming and outgoing equipment-grounding conductors to a short bare or green jumper. The bare or green insulated jumper is then connected to the grounding terminal of the device.


Improperly Grounding Frames of Electric Ranges and Clothes Dryers

This image shows two NEC-compliant 4-wire receptacles and an obsolete 3-wire receptacle in the middle. Before the 1996 version of the NEC, it was common practice to use the neutral as an equipment ground. Now, however, you must ground all frames of electric ranges, wall-mounted ovens, counter-mounted cooking units, clothes dryers, and outlet or junction boxes that are part of these circuits by a fourth wire — the equipment-grounding conductor. An exception permits retention of the pre-1996 arrangement for existing branch circuit installations only where an equipment-grounding conductor is not present. If possible, the best course of action is to run a new 4-wire branch circuit from the panel. If you must keep an old appliance, be sure to remove the neutral to frame bonding jumper if an equipment-grounding conductor is to be connected.

7Submersible pump 30 07 2012

Failure to Ground Submersible Well Pumps

Once upon a time, submersible well pumps were not required to be grounded because they were not considered “accessible.” Over the years, however, people started pulling the pump out, laying it on the ground, and energizing it to see if it would spin. As a result, if the case became live (due to a wiring fault), the overcurrent device would not function, causing a shock hazard. Per the 2008 NEC, a fourth equipment-grounding conductor is required that you must now lug to the top of the well casing. Although many electricians assume that one wire is a “ground” in a 3-wire submersible pump system, in actuality, submersible pump cable consists of three wires (plus equipment-grounding conductor) twisted together and unjacketed. Yellow is a common 240V leg, black is run, and red is start, which the control box energizes for a short period of time. Prior to the new grounding requirement, everything was hot.

7GroundingMistakesNon GroundingReceptacle

Here is a non-grounding type receptacle typically found in older homes. The NEC doesn’t say you have to immediately replace all noncompliant equipment with each new edition of the Code. Although it’s acceptable to leave the old “two prongers” in place — because an intact functioning equipment ground is such an obvious safety feature — most electricians tend to replace them. When you find yourself working with non-grounded receptacles, your best course of action is to run a new branch circuit back to the panel, verifying presence of a valid ground. Another possibility is to replace the two-prong receptacle with a GFCI. If replacement is necessary — and acquiring a ground is not feasible — you can also install a new non-grounding receptacle.


Failure to Bond Equipment Ground to Water Pipe

How many times have you seen an improper connection like this in the field? Here someone used a water pipe clamp to improperly connect a ground wire to this ground rod. Screw clamps and other improvised connections do not provide permanent low impedance bonding. The worst method would be to just wrap the wire around the pipe or to omit this bonding altogether. In a dwelling unit, a conductor must be run to metallic water pipe, if present, and connected with a UL-listed pipe grounding clamp. This bonding conductor is to be sized according to Table 250.66 of the NEC, based on the size of the largest ungrounded service entrance conductor or equivalent area for parallel conductors.

GFCI Outlet1

Not Installing GFCIs Where Required

With the passage of each new Code cycle comes the increased use of GFCIs in more applications. As an electrician, make sure you know when and where these devices are mandatory. In dwelling units, for example, the 2008 NEC notes that GFCIs are required on all 125V, single-phase, 15A and 20A receptacles in: bathrooms; garages; accessory buildings with a floor at or below grade level not intended as a habitable room, limited to storage, work and similar areas; outdoors; kitchens along countertops; within 6 feet of outside edge of laundry, utility, and wet bar sinks; and boathouses. In other than dwelling units, GFCIs are required on all 125V, single-phase, 15A and 20A receptacles in bathrooms, kitchens, rooftops, outdoors, and within 6 feet of the outside edge of sinks.

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The Evolution of Electrical Safety and NFPA 70E

Examining significant changes in the 2018 edition of the standard

It’s that time of year again — when the days start to get a little bit longer and for those of us up north, a little warmer, too. It is also that magical time every three years when we get to celebrate the latest revision of NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, hitting the bookshelves and digital marketplaces in its various forms.

The 2018 edition of NFPA 70E seems to be everywhere you turn in the electrical industry as companies dive in and get to work on updating safety programs to the newly revised requirements. The good news is that safety directors need not panic, as there were few changes that substantially shift the concept of safe work practices around electrical equipment. Many of the revisions in this cycle were aimed more at a continued effort made over the course of the last few cycles. For instance, there’s the hierarchy of risk control methods, an increased emphasis on preventive maintenance for personnel safety, and Art. 120, which was entirely rearranged to follow a more logical progression for establishing an electrically safe work condition.

Many of the more significant changes, though, have happened within Art. 130: the idea of risk assessment and the importance of accurately assessing what hazards to employee health exist when performing tasks in the field; old tables are gone, and new tables with increased usability for the NFPA 70E user have surfaced; and material that lived within the Annex is now incorporated within the document. Let’s break these revisions down, and look at the potential impact they will have on how electrical professionals approach electrical safety.

The hierarchy of risk control methods

The concept of a hierarchy of risk control methods is by no means new. It has been a concept within OSHA and was also in an informational note in previous editions of NFPA 70E, which has provided guidance on how employees are protected from hazards in the workplace. However, for the 2018 cycle, a section was added within Art. 110 for the risk assessment procedure to require preventive and protective measures to be implemented in accordance with the following hierarchy:

  1. Elimination
  2. Substitution
  3. Engineering Controls
  4. Awareness
  5. Administrative Controls
  6. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This requirement comes in the form of Sec. 110.3(H)(3). Again, this is not a new concept, but is new to the requirements of NFPA 70E. The addition of this hierarchy mirrors a shift in the attitude toward electrical safety. For years, electrical contractors across the country have been adopting a “No Live Work” policy. As nice as it might be to dream of a world where there is never energized work being performed, the reality is at times there simply is no other option. Imagine trying to troubleshoot a roof top HVAC unit without being able to check voltage and current levels. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to say the least.

So, what does this mean for risk assessment procedures going forward? Simply put, it means that all other possibilities must be exhausted prior to an employee being exposed to a hazard. In other words, dressing up in an arc flash suit is the absolute last resort for protecting employees from arc flash hazards. This should come as refreshing news, since the tests that arc-rated PPE must pass allow for a 50% probability that the clothing will allow enough thermal energy to pass through and cause a second-degree burn.

The purpose of NFPA 70E is to provide a practical safe working area for employees relative to hazards arising from the use of electricity. With this in mind, it helps to simplify the process of risk assessment and follow the hierarchy of risk control methods. The priority is to de-energize equipment. This eliminates the need to expose employees to electrical hazards because the hazard is no longer present. It should be noted, too, that during the process of establishing an electrically safe work condition, one of the steps includes verifying the absence of voltage; the hazard cannot be considered eliminated until after it has been proven that voltage has been removed and operation of the test instrument has been confirmed. This might mean that an employee would need to dress in appropriate PPE to perform this test because until it has been verified that the hazard is gone, it must be assumed that one still exists. However, even this process has seen new and innovative technology emerge and aims at protecting employees from ever having to be exposed to an assumed potential hazard. Permanently mounted absence of voltage testers are emerging to assist employees in verifying the hazard has been removed, without being exposed to a hazard during the verification process.

The Risk Assessment Procedure might also lead what was previously thought to be “justified” energized work to become unjustified during the planning process. For example, as a matter of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, often it is necessary to develop an alternative plan just in case an unforeseen and catastrophic event occurs. Think about this for a moment: How would we care for patients in the ICU wing of a hospital if energized work were to cause an unexpected shut down of the system? If a back-up plan can be determined for when the system has an unplanned shutdown, it makes sense to implement this plan first and never expose employees to the hazard. This hierarchy now requires that elimination of the hazard to be the priority, and your well-crafted back-up plan just became the first step in ensuring safe work practices.

Re-organization of Art. 120

Previous editions of NFPA 70E had all the right pieces for establishing an electrically safe work condition, but it needed a little tweaking for all the requirements to fall into the right order. The technical changes within Art. 120 are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, with the exception of permission to use the aforementioned permanently mounted test device for verification of absence of voltage. However, by re-arranging the order in which tasks are listed in Art. 120, the process for establishing an electrically safe work condition is easier to implement.

Previously, the Article started out with the section on verification of an electrically safe work condition. This was leading to some confusion as users of NFPA 70E were jumping around Art. 120 to find the different requirements they needed (as they were following the steps outlined in Sec. 120.1). With the new arrangement, however, Art. 120 is reorganized to increase usability and to provide a more logical flow with the following section layout:

• Section 120.1 (Lockout/Tagout Program)

• Section 120.2 (Lockout/Tagout Principles)

• Section 120.3 (Lockout/Tagout Equipment)

• Section 120.4 (Lockout/Tagout Procedures)

• Section 120.5 (Achieving an Electrically Safe Work Condition)

Now all the requirements for each of these important topics can be found in one place. In addition to reorganizing the requirements that belong in Art. 120, certain requirements were removed and relocated to other sections of NFPA 70E as appropriate. For example, lockout/tagout training and auditing requirements were moved into Art. 110 under the appropriate sections that deal with training and auditing.

The continued evolution of risk assessment

Assessing the amount of risk of injury or damage to health that an employee will face during any given task can be a monumental undertaking; until only a few cycles ago, it was almost impossible. Then something amazing happened. The evolution of risk assessment, in my opinion, is the number one indicator that a fundamental shift in the safety culture of our industry is taking place. Only a few short years ago, certainly at times throughout my career, the attitude toward performing energized work was cavalier at best. I can remember as an apprentice being asked to perform work in switchgear that was energized. I had no PPE, no justification for performing energized work, and certainly no formal risk assessment procedure. The guidance from my journeyman was simply: “Don’t drop your wrench or touch any of the bus bars over here. This stuff is expensive, and takes a long time to get. And, oh yeah, it will hurt, A LOT!”

Fast forward to today, and the procedures in place would never have allowed a conversation like that to take place. However, only with a significant change in the way our industry views safety can we appropriately and accurately assess the risk associated with given tasks and take the necessary steps to minimize our exposure to hazards. The concept of risk assessment has forced employees and employers to be honest with themselves and with each other about what could happen if a wrench is dropped or
accidental contact is made with energized components. The days of such a “macho” attitude of invincibility have given way to more informed discussions about how bad it could be and whether it is worth the risk.

The latest evolution in the risk assessment arena is a major shift in the approach to minimizing the worker’s exposure to hazards. In earlier editions of the standard, the PPE Category method contained a table that specified whether arc flash PPE was required based upon a list of common tasks. However, with the addition of the hierarchy of risk control methods being included in the requirements, now the appropriate method to protect the worker might not be PPE. In fact, PPE must be the last resort for protection. In addition, there was nothing to specify whether additional measures were required to protect workers from equipment that had undergone an incident energy analysis; many users wanted to use a hybrid of the PPE Category “Yes/No” table and the values determined for incident energy — a practice that NFPA 70E specifically prohibited.

This confusion was discussed at length by the committee, and the result is a new Table 130.5(C). This table now applies to either method employed for arc-flash risk assessment. However, it should be noted that this table no longer tells the user whether arc flash PPE is required. Rather, this new table helps in determining if additional measures are needed to protect workers by specifying whether an arc flash is likely to occur for given tasks. This process works in parallel with the hierarchy of risk control methods as well, which is why the table no longer specifies a need for PPE. Per the hierarchy, PPE is only to be used after the other five methods have been exhausted.

One more important distinction about this table is that it does not end the risk assessment procedure. This table is only an estimate of the likelihood of an arc flash occurring, as opposed to the former table, which specified that for some tasks PPE was not required. The risk assessment procedure can still determine there is a need to take additional steps to protect employees, even though Table 130.5(C) lists the likelihood of an arc flash as a “No.”

Let’s look at the example of performing thermal imaging during a maintenance inspection. Per the table, the process of removing the equipment covers does pose an increased likelihood of causing an arc flash; however, once the covers are removed and the thermography is performed outside the restricted approach boundary, the likelihood of occurrence changes to “No.” But does that mean there is no situation where an arc flash could injure the thermographer?

Let’s consider a motor control center (MCC) with automatic control features. If the covers are off and the motor starters are being operated through automatic means, an arc flash hazard might still exist and must be accounted for in the protection of the worker performing the thermography. Unfortunately, there is no “easy” button when it comes to electrical safety, but being armed with knowledge of how the risk assessment procedure is intended to protect workers will go a long way in reducing loss and injury due to electrical incidents.

An increased emphasis on maintenance

The need for proper maintenance of electrical equipment is not a new idea. However, this is one of those areas where the equipment in question is often an “out of sight, out of mind” situation until it fails. There is even equipment where the common course of action is to “set it and forget it.” Equipment failure is the indication that it needs attention, like a light bulb. The maintenance issue continues to surface through risk assessment procedures; however, it is becoming an ever-increasing cog in the personnel safety wheel. If the safety of employees depends on proper operation of certain electrical components, how can it be known whether equipment will operate if there is no record of maintenance?

In the 2015 edition of NFPA 70E the concept of “Normal Operation of Equipment” was added to justified energized work. This included tasks such as operation of SWD/HID circuit breakers to turn on and off lights in a warehouse or jogging a motor starter in an MCC. Normal operation has very specific conditions that must be met for a normal operating condition to exist. The equipment must meet the requirements outlined in Sec. 130.2(A)(4), including the need to be properly installed and maintained. This thrusts maintenance firmly into the forefront when it comes to what is considered “Normal Operation” of equipment.

In addition to the normal operation requirement, the evolution of the risk assessment procedure is also pushing maintenance to the top of the priority list. After all, if all my assumptions and calculations are based on specific operating parameters of given equipment, it is very important that the equipment work as advertised. The only way to be certain that this will happen is to ensure that equipment has been properly maintained and the maintenance documented. Documentation is crucial to track the history and accurately assess what level of risk the future holds.

Honorable mentions

With so many things going on in the evolution of electrical safety, it becomes difficult to spend meaningful time discussing them all in one place. But there are a few additional changes worth noting:

• Two new steps in establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition.

• Release stored electrical and mechanical energy.

• PPE conformity assessment

• Annex H PPE table incorporated into the requirements.

• Risk assessment must account for human error.

This is by no means meant to be a complete list of all the changes within the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E. By starting a conversation about some of the more important concepts in electrical safety, we can continue to support the shift in attitude of an entire industry segment. At the end of the day, we are all after the same thing. Everyone wants to go home in one piece. Evolving standard work practices take time and buy in from those affected. Only by spreading this message of a revised electrical safety culture can we ever hope to work in a field where nobody gets a ride in an ambulance due to taking an unjustified risk.

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What Is Electrical Grounding?

Electrical grounding or “Grounding” originally began as a safety measure used to help prevent people from accidentally coming in contact with electrical hazards. Think of your refrigerator. It is a metal box standing on rubber feet with electricity running in and out of it. You use magnets to hang your child’s latest drawing on the metal exterior. The electricity running from the outlet and through the power cord to the electrical components inside the refrigerator are electrically isolated from the metal exterior or chassis of the refrigerator.

If for some reason the electricity came in contact with the chassis, the rubber feet would prevent the electricity from going anywhere and it would sit waiting for someone to walk up and touch the refrigerator. Once someone touched the refrigerator the electricity would flow from the chassis of the refrigerator and through the unlucky person possibly causing injury.

Grounding is used to protect that person. By connecting a green ground wire from the metal frame of the refrigerator, if the chassis inadvertently becomes charged for any reason, the unwanted electricity will travel through the wire back to your electrical panel, and tripping the circuit-breaker stopping the flow of electricity. Additionally, that wire must be connected to something that is in turn connected to the earth or ground outside. Typically this connection is a grounding electrode, such as a ground rod.
Grounding and Earthing

A typical grounding electrode

The process of electrically connecting to the earth itself is often called “earthing”, particularly in Europe where the term “grounding” is used to describe the above-ground wiring. The term “Grounding” is used in America to discuss both below-grade earthing and above-grade grounding.

While electrical grounding may have originally been considered only as a safety measure, with today’s advances in electronics and technology, electrical grounding has become an essential part of everyday electricity. Computers, televisions, microwave ovens, fluorescent lights and many other electrical devices, generate lots of “electrical noise” that can damage equipment and cause it to work less efficiently. Proper grounding can not only remove this unwanted “noise”, but can even make surge protection devices work better.

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Best States for Energy

Energy Rankings: Measuring states' energy infrastructure

Energy represents one-third of the weight in ranking the Best States for infrastructure. This subcategory evaluates three major metrics: renewable energy usage, reliability of power grids and the average cost of electricity. Metrics were evaluated using the most recent data from the Department of Energy. Most of the energy consumed in the U.S. comes from fossil fuels, including petroleum, coal and natural gas, while about 10 percent of energy consumption comes from renewable sources. In 2016, 29 percent of all energy usage was in transportation, while 6 percent came from the residential sector and just 4 percent from the commercial category, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Oregon, which ranks No. 1 in energy, comes in third for infrastructure. Five of the top 10 states for energy also rank in the top 10 Best States overall: Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, Nebraska and North Dakota. And West Virginia, which is the worst state for energy, is also one of the poorest-performing states overall, coming in at No. 47. Montana, however, falls in the bottom half of states for infrastructure despite being top 10 states for energy.

Best States for Energy

Energy Rank State Electricity Price Power Grid Reliability Renewable Energy Usage
#1 Oregon 13 17 1
#2 Washington 2 25 2
#3 South Dakota 28 6 4
#4 Nebraska 17 1 10
#5 Iowa 10 15 6
#6 North Dakota 15 3 11
#7 Montana 14 30 5
#8 Nevada 7 5 15
#9 Arizona 34 2 21
#10 Minnesota 32 14 12

Power Grid Reliability

The Department of Energy measures the number of minutes of power outages each customer experiences on average every year. Excluding major events, customers in both Nebraska and Arizona experienced less than an hour of power outages in 2016. With 439 minutes – or more than seven hours – of hours of power outages in 2016, West Virginia was the No. 50 state in reliability of power grids, far exceeding No. 49 Maine's nearly four and a half hours, or 264 minutes. The Southeast had the greatest power disturbance by far, with an average of more than two hours per customer, while the average for the Great Plains region was only 86 minutes.

Best States for Power Grid Reliability


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Century-Old Contractors Power America’s Past and Future

oldest contractors intro 1 12

Some of the nation’s oldest electrical contracting companies have discovered the secrets to staying in business and evolving to satisfy their customers’ changing needs.

One-hundred years ago, less than 35% of U.S. homes were powered by electricity. During this golden age of opportunity, trail-blazing electricians founded their own electrical contracting companies in American cities nationwide. Oftentimes, these entrepreneurs opened their doors with little more than a dream, a storefront, and a passion for electrification. Some of these business ventures eventually disappeared from the industry, but others stood the test of time — and are still standing today.

oldest contractors intro 2 12

Succeeding in the electrical construction market for a century or more requires lots of determination — and a little bit of luck, says Fred Sargent, who retired from Sargent Electric after many years of leading the company.

“Once a company is within striking distance of reaching its 100-year mark, its owners and managers begin to eye that as a goal for the company and a legacy of their tenure,” Sargent says. “A contracting business equals the contracts it has in effect. Finding new business opportunities that will sustain its operation is a fundamental requirement.”

oldest contractors intro 3 11

Seven Secrets to Staying in Business for 100 Years or More

Some of the nation’s oldest electrical contracting companies have been able to stay in business for at least a century by adapting to changes in the industry and embracing new markets. Here are some of their strategies for not only surviving for 100 years, but also for planning for future growth and expansion.

  1. Adapt to customers’ changing needs. By keeping its customers at the forefront of its business plans, Sargent Electric can prepare its teams for the projects and technologies of the future. “Most of the emerging trends in our industry favor contractors that are providing full-service solutions for their customers, able to go wherever the customer needs them, and with the flexibility to work in a variety of team structures and contracting models,” says Rob Smith, president of the company.
  2. Train your workforce. Cache Valley Electric fosters a company culture that builds loyalty, camaraderie, and common purpose, treats each employee as irreplaceable, and invests in advanced training. “This training doesn’t just grow their value within our industry — it also builds their own sense of self-worth and accomplishment,” says Nate Wickizer, CEO of the company.
  3. Invest in technology. Hawkins Electric Service has strived to stay on the leading edge of technology through use of 3D modeling and GPR robotics on new construction projects. In addition, the field workforce uses iPads loaded with project management software and advanced equipment to troubleshoot underground faults.
  4. Treat your customers with respect, honesty, and fairness, according to the third-generation leaders of Hawkins Electric Service, who were always taught to “do the right thing.”
  5. Serve your community. At Hawkins Electric, the company’s executives and employees have made a strong commitment to the community through monetary, material and labor donations. In addition, the company executives are active in leadership roles in industry associations and encourage their employees to do the same.
  6. Secure repeat contracts. As Hawkins looks to solidify its regional presence and expand geographically, the contractor is focusing on building trusting and nurturing relationships with its industry partners.
  7. Network with other contractors. For the last 35 years, H.B. Frazer has served as a member of the Federated Electrical Contractors, which includes 37 other contractors, including Guarantee Electrical, OESCO, and Cache Valley Electric. These companies work together on joint ventures for clients both in the United States and abroad. “Being a Federated contractor is a great opportunity to meet and grow our business and learn from one another,” says Bill Holleran, president of H.B. Frazer.

Notable Changes Over the Last 100 Years

Rob Smith, president of Sargent Electric, shares three ways his company and the electrical industry has changed since his business first opened its doors.

  • More reliable and safer solutions at a lower cost.
  • Improved electrical safety for the end-user and owner/ operator of the facilities and for the electricians who make it all happen.
  • Innovations through all aspects of the supply chain, which reduces labor hours and costs. Also, the shift from building in the field to assembling advanced components and preassemblies boosts productivity.

Early Years of Electrification: A Timeline

1752: Ben Franklin ties a kite to a string during a thunderstorm.

1800: The first electric battery was founded by Alessandro Volta.

1821: Michael Faraday first discovered electro-magnetic rotation.

1826: Georg Ohm created Ohm’s Law.

1837: Thomas Davenport invented the first electric motor.

1878: Joseph Swan invented the first incandescent light bulb, which burned out quickly, and Thomas Edison founded the Edison Electric Light Co.

1879: Thomas Edison invented the first long-lasting incandescent light bulb, which could be used for at least 40 hours without burning out.

1882: Thomas Edison opened a power station, which could power 5,000 lights.

1883: Nikola Tesla invented the Tesla coil.

1893: The Westinghouse Electric Co. used AC current to light the Chicago’s World’s Fair.

1936: The Rural Electrification Act was aimed at providing electricity to farms in America.

1942: About half of the American farms had electricity.


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Electrical grounding technique may improve health outcomes of NICU babies

A technique called "electrical grounding" may moderate preterm infants' electromagnetic exposure in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and improve their health outcomes, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

Image result for premature baby in incubator

Equipment in the NICU produces low-frequency electromagnetic fields that can have subtle yet measurable effects on the autonomic nervous system, the system that regulates involuntary body functions. Preterm infants may be especially vulnerable to these effects.

Previous research in adults has shown that exposure to electromagnetic fields can affect the vagus nerve, a key component of the autonomic nervous system which regulates the body's internal organs during rest. Previous research also has shown that electrical grounding, which reduces the electrical charge to the body, can improve the functioning of the autonomic nervous system and the vagus nerve, producing improved vagal tone.

Vagal tone, which is measured by analyzing heart rate variability between inhalation and exhalation, is a valuable indicator of health. An earlier study performed with colleagues at Penn State found that low vagal tone in preterm infants is a marker of vulnerability to stress and a risk factor for developing necrotizing enterocolitis, an intestinal disorder that can have severe consequences. Strengthening vagal tone may reduce inflammation, guard against the development of necrotizing enterocolitis and offer protection from a variety of other conditions that can affect preterm infants.

Additionally, a separate study involving preterm infants in the NICU revealed that when the incubator's power was switched off, thereby eliminating the electromagnetic source, the vagal tone of the infants improved. But until this Penn State study, published in a recent issue of Neonatology, no other research had directly evaluated the effect of electrical grounding on vagal tone in preterm infants in the NICU.

To evaluate the connection between electrical grounding and vagal tone in preterm infants, the researchers conducted a prospective observational study that included a total of 26 preterm infants who were between six and 60 days old and in the NICU at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center between October 2012 and January 2014.

"Preterm babies in the NICU have a lot of health challenges due to the immaturity of their lungs, of their bowel and of all their organs, so we decided to look at how electrical grounding could help improve vagal tone and mitigate some of those challenges," said Dr. Charles Palmer, professor of pediatrics and chief of newborn medicine at Penn State Children's Hospital. "Anything we might do to improve the babies' resilience would be good."

After measuring the environmental electromagnetic levels in and around the incubators, the researchers electrically grounded the babies by connecting an electrode wire from the infants' incubators or open cribs to the ground. Twenty of the 26 infants were measured for both skin voltage -- the voltage measured between the patient's skin and electrical ground -- and heart rate variability -- to assess vagal tone -- before, during and after grounding. Six of the infants were measured only for skin voltage.

"When we looked at the signal on the skin, it was an oscillating signal going out at 60 hertz, which is exactly the frequency of our electrical power. When we connected the baby to the ground, the skin voltage dropped by about 95 percent and vagal tone increased by 67 percent," Palmer said. After grounding, vagal tone returned to the pre-grounding level.

"What we can conclude is that a baby's autonomic nervous system is able to sense the electrical environment and it seems as though a baby is more relaxed when grounded," Palmer said. "When tied to our previous work, which found that vagal tone was an important risk factor for necrotizing enterocolitis, this new finding may offer an opportunity to protect babies even further."

A limitation of this study is the sample size, and further research is needed, said Palmer.

"If more research confirms our results, it could mean, for example, redesigning incubators to ground babies and cancel out the electrical field," he said.

Palmer also said that more study is needed to evaluate the long-term effects on preterm infants of exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields in the NICU.


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See the origial article at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170803120627.htm


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How does your state rank in Electrical Safety

Mike Holt's State Rating of the Electrical Industry - 2018

Map Safest States2018

As part of our ongoing focus on electrical safety, we annually update our report that assigns a grade to US States for electrical standards that are mandated state-wide.

State-wide mandates considered.

The following criteria are all required at the state level for points to be assigned for this report:

  • The NEC® edition adopted (current = 2017 NEC issued on 8/4/2016)
  • Licensing and/or certification required for Apprentice, Journeyman, Master/Contractor, Inspector, and Engineer licenses
  • Continuing Education (CEU or PDH) required for license renewal

What's NOT included in our report.

  • County and Municipality adoptions. We recognize that there are many local adoptions, and that in many cases county and municipalities adopt the most recent building and electrical codes ahead of their State. The scope of anything other than state-wide mandated requirements is beyond this report.
  • Enforcement or effectiveness. We are unaware of a way to track or correlate enforcement as it relates to rates of incidents or accidents.


  • The following states have an A+ rating: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming.
  • We applaud all those states, counties and local municipalities that continue to set high standards in electrical safety.

The Chart below shows the rankings.

If there is a green up arrow next to the state name, it indicates an improvement in grade over the last 5 years from 2014 to 2018; a down red arrow indicates a decline.

For history and details of how grades are calculated, click here.

Note: All 12 points are required for an A+ grade.

STATE GRADE 2014 GRADE 2015 GRADE 2016 GRADE 2017 GRADE 2018
D.C. C+ C+ C+ C C
TEXAS A- A- A- B+ A-


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Updating Legacy Power Systems

Why you need to deploy the newest solutions for greater reliability in security and access control specifications

It is exciting times for physical security today. Technology has advanced at breakneck speeds, quite significant for an industry that seemed to stand still for decades. Now, with networked and Internet Protocol (IP) products in video surveillance and access control, edge intelligence and connected data coming from a host of integrated devices and sensors, there’s a whole new proving ground emerging for power in these types of security solutions.

Consumers and end-users expect to connect to their systems at any time, from anywhere. End users need their solutions up and running 24/7, especially in critical infrastructure or government security applications. Everything is interconnected and talking to each other— and power is the heartbeat of the integrated solution.

Power systems have undergone a substantial transformation in performance and design, resulting in better efficiency, reliability and stability. Now, it too has joined the growing fray of networkconnected products—with new remote monitoring and management capabilities yielding a more robust power and security system specification.

History of Power

The basic design of power systems has changed dramatically during the last several decades. In the 70s, power systems used linear regulation, an older technology that was inherently inefficient. With linear systems, a large, step-down transformer was required and the regulator operates by “burning off” extra voltage as heat. Heat generation, an enemy of electronics which degrades performance over time, is much greater in linear power supplies. Efficiency levels for linear power supplies were typically in the 65 percent range and generally limited to a single, preconfigured output voltage dependent on the input transformer. Linear power supplies are generally being phased out, driven also by state and federal regulations, in favor of offline switching supplies (OLS).

OLS is a widely used technology capable of operating with a cleaner power output than linear. It offers less noise and ripple as opposed to linear, especially during high-power operation. An OLS power system operates on the same principles as a low-voltage switching mode power supply, but eliminates the need for a step-down transformer, improving efficiency while reducing weight and heat output. OLS is able to achieve nearly 90 percent efficiency and far lower operating temperatures than either linear or switching mode, with the result being greater long-term product reliability.

When power supplies began to move to OLS the higher efficiency presented a greater feature set and ultimately it began its transition from dumb hardware to an integral part of a network-connected system.

The efficiency, feature sets and available diagnostics of power solutions will only improve with the future generation of products. Devices will continue to integrate—with the ability of hardware and software to communicate more wholly through protocols such as Physical Logical Access Interoperability (PLAI) profile and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)—as well as foster easier use and user transparency.

The power supply is now a complete solution, offering single and dual voltage, power distribution, lock and output control, remote test capability, remote diagnostics and remote reporting capabilities.

Big Picture: Access Control, PoE and Wireless

Power also plays a significant role in many emerging trends in access control. There’s quite a large infrastructure of legacy access control solutions still operating in the industry today, but they are being migrated to integrated open solutions. In addition, the rise of wireless locking products, power over Ethernet connectivity and edge intelligence in access control is also dictating the need for more robust power solutions to keep systems up and running competently.

With an IP edge-based solution, each door operates independently of other openings in the system. Edge access control systems require networked power solutions that can provide predictive capabilities, remote monitoring and maintenance, so integrators and users can maintain them proactively.

Networked access control systems are an integral part of security at the protected premises. And wouldn’t it be great if an end-user knew, ahead of time, of impending lock failure or battery fatigue— offering the ability to replace components in a timely manner and maintain system uptime? That’s what’s possible today with proactive power system management from networked components. In addition, reliable and predictable power systems provide greater efficiencies and yield substantial cost savings for customers and integrators.

Modern power systems provide these capabilities:

  • The ability to access real-time data and detect historical trends, with 100 percent visibility into the system, globally or locally, or to each connected device.
  • The ability to identify and prevent potential power problems to critical security systems before they fail.
  • Powerful analytics that deliver information in a highly intuitive form that helps security integrators manage systems to a healthy, optimal performance.
  • An integrated solution that combines access control hardware with intelligent power networking capabilities in a single enclosure to reduce installation time and yield easy standardization across enterprise specifications and from installation to installation.
  • Proactive real-time reporting and the continual delivery of mission critical information on the overall system health and viability, leading to less downtime or failure.

Networked enterprise or multi-tenant sites can effectively use power solutions to pinpoint potential connectivity and device issues with proactive, intelligent analytics. At the ready for integrators and end users are many predictive tools to automatically manage power solutions and receive alerts in advance of issues so preventative actions and response can be administered through managed services. These managed services could include: remote battery management and testing; remote device monitoring and restart/power cycle functionality; proactive detection and assessment of problems; and system solution health and connectivity reports generated on demand or at any designed schedule or interval.

What once was considered a dumb device now has attained mission critical stature for integrated solutions at the protected premises. Power is knowledgeable, connected and intelligent, culling constant realtime information on the status and operational history of systems installations.

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Eaton’s Blackout Tracker Annual Report Shows 36.7 Million People affected by more than 3,500 power outages in 2017

Underscoring the critical need for disaster recovery planning for businesses across the United States, power management company Eaton today announced the release of its Blackout Tracker Annual Report for 2017. This year’s report found that in 2017 nearly 27 million people were affected by 3,526 blackouts lasting an average of 81 minutes per power outage. While California topped the list of states with the most interruptions for the ninth consecutive year, power failures impacted individuals and businesses in all 50 states.

“The Blackout Tracker Annual Report shows the scope and severity of power outages across the country, leading to widespread damage and significant consequences for businesses,” said Mike DeCamp, senior marketing communications manager, Power Quality Division, Eaton. “With the number of people affected by pervasive electrical power outages, surges and spikes continuing to rise each year, it’s more critical than ever to develop a disaster recovery plan with reliable power protection to avoid detrimental downtime.”

Blackout Tracker Annual Report data is based on a full year of reported power outages across the U.S. and is organized into three sections: an introduction to power outages and the impact of downtime, an overview of national power outage data, and power outage data by state. Eaton’s Blackout Tracker report features top outage lists, including the most significant reported outages, largest data center outages and the most unusual causes for outages.

Among the most unusual causes of power outages in 2017:

Bradford, Illinois: On June 11, a tree branch, rotted from beehives and honeycombs inside, broke off and landed on power lines. Crews had to find a way to remove the state-protected insects without harming them, and were forced to wait for the arrival of state agency employees.
Grand Haven Township, Michigan: On Sept. 19, a sailboat’s mast hit an overhead wire in a swampy area on the Lost Channel, catching fire and resulting in a 75-minute blackout.
Felton, Delaware: On Dec. 12, a tractor-trailer truck carrying a load of chickens cut electricity to area residents and snarled traffic after the flock escaped.

The costs associated with power failures have continued to rise. Although power failures are commonly due to weather and unforeseen events, uninterruptible power systems (UPSs), generators and power management software solutions are designed to deliver reliable power during outages so data centers stay up-and-running.

Eaton has tracked power outage information since Feb. 16, 2008. Data for the report is taken from broadcast news reports, newspapers, websites (including those of newspapers and TV stations) and personal accounts.

To download the entire report and track power outages across the U.S., visit switchon.eaton.com/blackout-tracker

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