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In our line of work, we are often faced with a difficult decision when addressing electrical issues and deciding where and when to draw the line for requiring a licensed electrician. One may traditionally consider costs, protection of equipment, efficient system operation, schedule, and safety when making this decision. Today’s industry is clearly prioritizing these factors in a new light and the safety of employees and site-safety in general is now of paramount importance. These changes have begun to redefine policy and approach related to electrical issues, however even with this new trend, there is still - of course - the issue of cost to consider.
Looking at it from one side one might ask, “Can we really apply a dollar value to human life and the protection of our people?” And from the other, “With increasing pressures to meet tighter budgeting demands is there really any room for licensed electricians?”
For you - If it simply comes down to a regulatory perspective - then GWTT, with the assistance of our Health & Safety Director, is providing a brief summation of the requirements set forth in the National Fire Protection Association Code NFPA 70E for your information.
The Code provides definitions for two types of workers related to electrical safety; Qualified Persons and Unqualified Persons. It does not define whether or not a Qualified Person needs to be a licensed operator, but it does state that a “Qualified Person shall be trained and knowledgeable of the construction and operation of (electrical) equipment or a specific work method and be trained to recognize and avoid the electrical hazards that might be present with respect to that equipment or work method”. It also states that any energized equipment operating at 50 volts or more requires a Qualified Person. However, any work on equipment that is de-energized or operating at less than 50 volts can be conducted by an Unqualified Person.
Our interpretation of the aforementioned Code is that any work on energized equipment that operates at greater than 50 volts would require a licensed electrician or an individual that has completed the intensive training requirements that would qualify that individual as a Qualified Person. Although some work can be conducted on de-energized equipment, our experience has shown that much of our work, especially with regard to system troubleshooting, requires that equipment and panels be energized while work is being conducted, requiring a Qualified Person.
GWTT Health & Safety Policy requires that all electrical work be conducted in compliance with the NFPA Code and we take pride in putting the safety of our employees first. Although it may not be intuitive, what we have found is that we can, “have our cake and eat it too”, in that, if an electrical issue arises, by utilizing our licensed electricians rather than our “competent” but not “qualified” people, we can complete work in a safe, experienced, timely, and cost effective manner and know that ultimately the work has been done safely and properly. By taking this approach we rarely find ourselves fixing the same problem twice, and its success has lead to significant cost savings over the long term.Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or if a need arises for Qualified Persons or Licensed Electricians at your facility. GWTT can provide licensed electricians, through our subsidiary MoreElectric, all of whom would be considered Qualified Persons, and have extensive experience with treatment systems.