Topic: Electrical

boat marina

Navigating Electrical Safety Through Marina Waters

I don’t know about where you reside, but the race is on here in Michigan! The frenzied months of April and May are spent uncovering and cleaning boats, in anticipation of considerable time spent on the water over Memorial Day weekend. But as the boat gets loaded with safety items like fire extinguishers, life jackets, and buoys, it is just as important to consider an additional safety consideration – electrical safety. It's no secret that water and electricity don’t play nice together. Often, boats are docked in marinas that have both readily available. So, it is extremely important to make sure that shore power and onboard vessel electrical systems are working properly, and not introducing electrical safety hazards into marina waters. One safety concern that needs to be taken into consideration, that integrates both water and electricity, is electric shock drowning (ESD). ESD is the result of the passage of a typically low-level AC current through the body with sufficient force to cause skeletal muscular paralysis, rendering the victim unable to help themselves, while immersed in freshwater, eventually resulting in drowning of the victim. Considering I am a 3rd generation master electrician, and father, from the state of Michigan, which has the most freshwater coastline of any U.S. state, it is frustrating to me that I had never heard of ESD prior to joining NFPA two years ago. With a high level of ESD cases happening because of leakage current within marinas, it’s a great starting point for discussing what electrical professionals can do to help increase electrical safety. First, a little history. The National Electrical Code® (NEC®), Article 555 Marinas, Boatyards, Floating Buildings, and Commercial and Noncommercial Docking Facilities has seen significant changes around marina ground-fault protection requirements, over the past several cycles. Section 555.3 of the 2011 NEC implemented a requirement for the main overcurrent protective device that feeds the marina to have ground-protection set to open at 100 milliamps (mA) or above. The substantiation behind accepted Proposal 19-189 included information of more than 50 deaths and over 30 injuries due to leakage current in or around marinas. This requirement stayed at 100 mA for both the 2011 and 2014 versions of the NEC. In November 2014, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) released a report that assessed hazardous voltage and current within marinas, boatyards, and floating buildings. During the development of the 2017 NEC, Code Making Panel 19 (CMP-19) issued a First Revision (FR) to 555.3, changing the ground fault protection threshold from 100mA to 30 mA. The 30mA requirement was for both feeder and branch circuit conductors, as well as receptacles feeding shore power. The committee statement issued to substantiate the change stated: The 30 mA ground fault limit is consistent with that recommended in the Fire Protection Research Foundation report “Assessment of Hazardous Voltage/Current in Marinas, Boatyards and Floating Buildings.” During the 2020 NEC development process, section 555.3 covering ground-fault protection in marinas was relocated to 555.35 and broken down to cover both ground-fault protection of equipment (GFPE) and ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) protection. After several Public Inputs (PIs) were submitted that provided information around the viability of marinas being able to operate with an overall 30 mA threshold, CMP-19 created a FR to modify the existing requirement. The modified the ratings to 100 mA for feeder and branch circuit conductors, and 30 mA for receptacles providing shore power. The 30mA NEC requirement for shore power GFPE also aligned with the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Standard E-11 AC and DC Electrical Systems on Boats requirement of a 30 mA rated leakage current monitoring device being installed in all newly manufactured boats onboard electrical systems. Leakage current is often attributed to boats themselves. In a NFPA video around the 2020 NEC marina electrical safety changes, Cliff Norton with Bellingham Marine Utilities, and CMP-7 member, estimates that 90 percent of marina GFPE issues can be attributed to the vessels, or boats, that are docked there. As you can imagine, marinas see boats of all shapes, sizes, and ages entering their waters. Some may be docked long term and some may be short term guests, but all are capable of introducing leakage current into the waters. That said, boats should be regularly tested for leakage current with the proper leakage current measurement device. For any marina having more than three receptacles providing shore power to boats, that is inspected based on the 2020 NEC, it is actually a requirement [555.35(B)]to have a leakage current measurement device on site and be utilized to determine leakage current from each boat that will utilize shore power. So, as electrical professionals, what can be done to help ensure that marinas are as safe as possible for those about to embark on their summer of fun on the water? Here are a few things that can certainly help: Ensure that the marinas you service have proper GFPE protection, and it has been tested. As mentioned, there are different GFPE protection requirements based on what version of the NEC is being enforced by the jurisdiction in which the marina is located. It is important that GFPE protection within marinas meets, or exceeds, what is required. Ensure that the marinas have a leakage current monitoring device on hand and are regularly testing boats utilizing shore power. Every new boat that enters a marina can introduce potential hazards. Even those regularly docked at the marina every season can introduce hazards, especially when the boat onboard electrical systems are being serviced by unqualified persons. Learn more about ESD and spread the word to others. With nearly 30 years of an experience as an electrician in a state where everyone spends their summer on the water, I had no clue what ESD even was until I started at NFPA. For those who still don’t understand the importance, share this heart wrenching story with them. Nobody should be swimming in marina waters - at any time. In the blink of an eye, any fun-filled summer day could become a tragedy. For more information on marina electrical safety, please visit our NFPA marinas, lakes, and ponds web page.

The Human Toll: Understanding the Physical, Emotional, and Psychological Issues Associated with Electrical Burn Injuries

NFPA has dedicated its efforts to raising awareness and helping educate workers, employers, and the public about the hazards associated with electricity both on the job and at home so that one day no one will have to suffer the effects of electrical burn injuries. Supporting ESFI and its annual Electrical Safety Month campaign provides an important platform for us to remind people about these hazards, but it is also an opportunity to share critical information about the physical, emotional, and psychological toll electrical injuries can take on a person and his/her families for months and years to come. NFPA created a video campaign series in collaboration with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors called Faces of Fire/Electrical that is devoted to telling the personal stories of people affected by electrical injuries. Survivors like Don Johnson, who suffered third-degree burns on his face, neck, and arms due to an arc flash event that happened at work and who spent years recovering from his injuries; and Pam Elliott who shares her personal story of resilience after suffering major burns over 50 percent of her body after a fire ignited by a damaged lighting fixture destroyed her family home when she was just a young girl. Electrical hazards can affect anyone at any time if we are not careful. These stories and many more highlighted in the campaign serve as powerful reminders about the need for more recognition and understanding of the electrical hazards that exist in our daily lives. Here are a few additional resources we are highlighting this month that feature stories from survivors and the doctors who treat them: NFPA has a podcast called the Mysteries of Electrical Injuries. In the interview, we speak with three renowned doctors from the Chicago Electrical Trauma Rehabilitation Institute about what an electrical shock can do to the human body, the treatments available, and how our understanding of the resulting injuries continues to evolve. It’s a discussion you definitely don’t want to miss. One of the doctors featured in the “Mysteries” podcast, Dr. Neil Pliskin, is part of a lineup of experts in the “Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety” program as part of the NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series. Dr. Pliskin discusses his work with electrical injury patients and the research associated with neuropsychological issues that can arise following electrical shock injuries. The program is available on demand through the end of May.  In a separate video, and as part of the Faces of Fire/Electrical campaign, we interviewed Dr. Victor Joe who works at UCI Health Regional Burn Center and sits on the Phoenix Society’s Board. In his interview, Dr. Joe discusses his passionate work to treat the complete physical and emotional healing of patients suffering from burn injuries. Join us during Electrical Safety Month in sharing this crucial information and spreading the word on how we can all reduce the risk of electrical injuries and create a safer world for all. You can find these resources and more like videos, checklists, and tip sheets, on our website.
Electrician tools

Safety for Electrical Inspectors, is it Really that Different?

According to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi), there were 126 electrical fatalities in 2020, which is down 24 percent over 2019 numbers. Electrical fatality rates reflected 0.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers, of which 0.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers were in the construction industry. Private industry accounted for 118 of the 126 fatalities. These numbers, while better than previous years are still too high. A group that is susceptible to these electrical safety risks, one that may not always seem so clear, is electrical inspectors. While many electrical inspectors are not installing electrical systems any longer, they are, still, frequent visitors to active construction sites looking at electrical installations completed by others. So it isn’t unreasonable to believe they may be exposed to similar hazards as the other construction workers, such as: frayed extension cords exposed temporary wiring energized electrical equipment ·open trenches moving construction equipment loud noise Electrical inspectors often are former construction workers themselves and may be somewhat familiar with these listed hazards, but that doesn’t mean they were properly trained and able to readily recognize them. Not all inspections an electrical inspector performs are on new construction, or even on commercial construction sites. Residential electrical inspections, to both new and existing homes, can also present electrical hazards.  With the variety of inspections performed, always being able to clearly identify electrical safety hazards can be challenging. Especially with newer technology installations such as solar photovoltaic and energy storage systems (ESS); installations that an inspector may not be aware of because they have never inspected, or personally installed, these systems before. Statistics raise awareness about a specific topic, in this case fatalities connected to an encounter with electricity. A goal of raising awareness is often an increased focus on keeping workers safe. Injuries affect more than the victim, it impacts their families, employers, and fellow employees. So how do we reduce the fatalities and the resulting impact? One way is assessing risk by utilizing The Hierarchy of Risk Control (HoRC) Method, as stated in 120.5(H)(3) of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®: Elimination. Physically remove the hazard. Substitution. Replace the hazard, potentially by reducing energy levels. Engineering Controls. Isolate people from the hazard. Awareness. Signs Alerting of potential presence of hazards. Administrative Controls. Change the way people work or conduct inspections by having procedures and job planning tools. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Protect the worker and inspector with the correct gear. Now you are probably wondering how these methods can apply to an electrical inspector’s job. Although not a listed part of the HoRC, every inspector should review the jobsite safety policy and compare it to their employer’s policy and utilize the more stringent of the two. Due to time constraints I know this doesn’t happen often, but it should. The start of the HoRC is by eliminating risks to the inspection like not opening electrical equipment without first placing it into an electrically safe working condition (ESWC) as described in Article 120 of NFPA 70E. Maybe it isn’t convenient to have an ESWC during normal hours, so a substitute option would be to conduct the inspection outside of normal working hours, which may make facilitating an ESWC easier. An afterhours inspection may also help to isolate more people from the hazard. Frequently there are warning signs placed on or around electrical equipment that are not always a requirement of the NEC but do provide valuable information to aid in keeping inspectors safe if we are paying attention. Check in with superintendents or facility managers to see if they have procedures set in place for conducting inspections. As a last resort, PPE can be used if none of the other items remove the risk. While PPE, like a fall arrest system or arc rated face shield may be used as needed, there are other types that should be a part of your daily wear, like: arc-rated clothing safety vest hard hat safety glasses safety boots This high-level overview of safety tips will hopefully help electrical inspectors, and others, to think more about safety in their daily tasks as they conduct them. A safe electrical inspector is a valuable inspector. Remember, safety is everybody’s responsibility and needs to become a part of everyone’s workplace culture. We need to hold each other accountable for our actions, in order to work toward getting fatality numbers to finally reach zero. For more information and related resources, visit the NFPA electrical inspection webpage at

NFPA has received a $225K grant from General Motors to deliver free online electric vehicle training to 12,000 volunteer and underserved U.S. fire departments

NFPA has received a $225,000 grant from General Motors to deliver its electric vehicle (EV) training for free to 12,000 volunteer and underserved fire departments throughout the U.S. The funding comes at a critical time, as more EVs continue to enter the roadways but many fire departments remain untrained in effectively mitigating associated incidents. “While firefighters have had more than 100 years to learn how to handle incidents with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, they’ve had very little time to understand and train for those involving EV and hybrid vehicles,” said Andrew Klock, emerging issues lead manager at NFPA. “As electric vehicles increasingly dominate our roads in the coming years, ensuring that fire departments are adequately trained and equipped to deal with them is critically important.” A 2020 report published by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) states that the U.S. fire service is not prepared to fight electric vehicle fires. This issue is more prevalent among volunteer and underserved departments, which often don’t have the resources to receive the needed training; about two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. fire departments are served by part-time or volunteer firefighters, according to NFPA data. Through the General Motors grant, NFPA will work in coordination with U.S. fire service organizations and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Clean Cities Coalitions to conduct outreach among targeted audiences to maximize participation in the NFPA Electric Vehicle Safety training program, which will be provided online at no cost for one year. Fire departments that would like to register for the course can do so via the NFPA catalog and apply this coupon code: gmev1 (not case sensitive). “Providing free access to our training plays a pivotal role in helping ensure that volunteer and underserved fire departments are adequately trained and prepared to handle EV incidents,” said Klock. “Thanks to General Motors’ generous support, we’ll be able to provide the needed training to thousands of fire departments that otherwise would not be able to access it.” NFPA is an ANSI-accredited national codes and standards developer for emergency responder qualifications, equipment, and tactics. Over the past 12 years, the association has worked to develop and refine its EV safety program in collaboration with NTSB, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the National Highway and Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST), and numerous national research laboratories. These and associated efforts have earned NFPA widespread recognition among the major fire service organizations in North America as the leading EV safety training program for first responders. NFPA also serves on the SAE J2990 Committee for EV Safety and continues to engage with the U.S. DOE, DOT, and NHTSA to conduct testing and determine new methods to combat EV incidents.

A Better Understanding of NFPA 70E: Setting Up an Electrical Safety Program (Part 2 - Principles)

May is Electrical Safety Month which is a good time to review your company’s Electrical Safety Program (ESP). Electrical safety does not start with the employees, it starts with management before the first employee steps into a facility to conduct any task. It is impossible to properly train employees in electrical safety in any facility without it. There can be no improvement in electrical safety without a well-established and documented ESP. Management must first determine central safety principles when setting up the program. Section 110.5(E) of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® requires that the principles be identified. What is a principle? One definition of the term is a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived. This is perhaps the best definition of how the term should be applied in NFPA 70E. Management must commit to protecting employees by establishing principles. Principles are the broad statements of how electrical safety will be handled within the facility. NFPA 70E, Annex E includes some things that could be used as a safety principle. Principles could include the following. Achieving a zero-injury facility Inspecting and evaluating all electrical equipment Maintaining electrical equipment’s integrity Assessing employee abilities Documenting procedures Planning every job Identifying electrical hazards and reducing the associated risk Anticipating unexpected events before tasks are started Establishing an electrically safe work condition as the primary safe work procedure Protecting employees from recognized electrical hazards Using the right tools for the job Addressing all employee safety concerns Auditing the principles, policies, and procedures NFPA 70E does not set principles. It is the employer’s responsibility to do so for their facility. Principles must be documented to form the basis for detailed safe work procedures. For example, a detailed procedure would address what is involved under the principle of planning every job or task. Care should be taken when setting principles since they are typically not changed by the nature of being a safety principle. The principles must be considered whenever a policy or procedure is developed. Most importantly, management must allow employees to work under the documented principles to advance safety in the workplace.
A construction worker measuring
2 3 4 5 6 ... 37

Latest Articles