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What Electrical Regulations Should My Business Know About?

Imagine running your business without electricity? It seems impossible to fathom in this day and age; it empowers us to maintain smooth, streamlined operations – and to simply turn on the lights in the morning or power up the computers so you can answer all those emails!  At the same time, safety is a significant concern as electrical hazards are a major cause of disruptions, fires, shocks, and injury. This is where electrical regulations come in.  Whether you are building a new space, remodeling an historic building, have a large complex to manage, or you are just maintaining your current space, what does your business need to know in order to put safety first and comply with applicable codes?

ELECTRICAL REGULATIONS FOR BUSINESS: OSHA

Electrical codes are complex and ever evolving. When trying to make sense of what this means for your business, it is helpful to start with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. OSHA regulations cover three phases of electrical safety:

  1. Installation: Codes 2920.303 – 1910.308 cover how electrical equipment must be installed, including what types of wiring, conductors, groundings, terminals, fuses, and circuits are to be used. OSHA also requires that all work must be done by “qualified” employees. They must receive either classroom or on-the-job training to distinguish live parts, determine voltage, demonstrate the capability to work safely on energized circuits, and use specific personal protective equipment, safety techniques, and proper insulating and shielding materials.
  2. Work Practices. Businesses must put proper safety-related work practices in place to prevent electric shock and to ensure their workplace is as free from hazards as possible. Training is key here: employers are required to provide safety training and document it. Further, only “qualified” individuals can work on electrical circuits; custodial staff working near power supplies must have adequate training and safety equipment; and protective measures must be taken near overhead lines.
  3. Maintenance Requirements and Safety Equipment. Businesses must provide training in “Lockout and Tagging” procedures to those who work in areas/roles where there is a risk of shock. Protective equipment, such as non-conducting head protection, insulated tools, and eye/face protection must be worn when appropriate.

OTHER ELECTRICAL REGULATIONS BUSINESSES NEED TO KNOW

In addition to OSHA’s electrical regulations, there are some basics of which every employer should be aware:

  1. Every employee must comply with electrical regulations and cooperate in order to maintain a safe workplace.
  2. Electrical equipment that is exposed to the elements (ice, snow, rain), natural hazards, pressure, extremes in temperature, corrosive conditions, or dust should be made of materials that prevent electrical hazards.
  3. System conductors must be covered with appropriate insulating materials and additional protective measures to prevent exposure.
  4. Electrical systems must be able to withstand high voltages to prevent fire and short circuits.
  5. If you have equipment that operates on 230 volts of more, you need a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI or GFCI). These devices disconnect electrical supply when voltages exceed a specified range.
  6. GFCIs are required on all circuits that are near water, as well as on all circuit supply portable equipment.
  7. All fixed installations should be examined and tested regularly by a professional electrician.

These are just some of the electrical regulations for businesses. The National Electric Code (NEC), for example, which is a standard most states have adopted, runs about 1000 pages. For a layperson, deciphering the codes is daunting. At the same time, complying with applicable codes and best practices for electrical safety is a must.

Reach out to the professionals. At Jefferson Electric, we are electrical energy specialists who are committed to continuous learning – we read the NEC so you don’t have to! We will help you understand applicable electrical regulations and codes and implement effective safety procedures for your business. If you have questions or concerns about your current practices, equipment, training initiatives, or code compliance, do not hesitate to contact us.

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