ELECTRICAL PRODUCT AND WORK STANDARDS BASIC INFORMATION AND TUTORIALS


The generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical power are now deregulated, but many rules, regulations, and standards still apply to the manufacture of electrical equipment, the job site, and the installation of electrical systems. Many of these standards are focused on safety issues, such as the elimination or avoidance of hazards in working with or using electricity.

The installation of any inferior wiring devices or equipment, substandard workmanship, or inadequate test and maintenance procedures could be the cause of fires or explosions and result in the creation of electric shock hazards.

There is a need for standards that, when adopted, will serve as a basis for proper inspection and supervision. There are regulatory standards, national consensus standards, product standards, installation standards, and international standards.

The consensus standards include the National Electrical Code (NEC), the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70B and 70E, and other NFPA standards, as well as American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) standards.

Interested persons with requisite education, training, and background experience volunteer their time and expertise to develop these standards. Some might be employees of electrical product manufacturers, and others might be consultants or engineering professors.

Some standards were developed specifically for electrical applications. These include the National Electrical Code (NEC) (officially NFPA 70) and the National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS).

In addition, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standards cover equipment design and construction, while the Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) standards cover safety provisions in the manufacture of electrical devices, products, and accessories.


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), publisher of both the NEC and NESC, has also developed standards related to electrical work including:  NFPA 79 Industrial Machinery  NFPA 780 Lightning Protection  NFPA Static Electricity

The NFPA has also developed standards for fire prevention, installation of sprinklers, stacking materials, and a standard building code. The following organizations have also developed standards that have a bearing on electrical work:

ACS: American Chemical Society
ACGIH: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
AIChE: American Institute of Chemical Engineers
ASME: American Society of Mechanical Engineers
ASTM: American Society for Testing and Materials
ASSE: American Society of Safety Engineers
AWS: American Welding Society
CGA: Compressed Gas Association
CMA: Chemical Manufacturing Association
CMAA: Crane Manufacturer’s Association
GSA: General Services Administration Federal Supply Services
NSC: National Safety Council
OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Individuals or organizations with a professional or business interest in these standards can join these organizations to help support them and gain access to their newsletters so that they can stay informed on any changes within the standards. Standards-making organizations may make changes to their standards between normal cycles that are not included in the printed text of the original issue of the standard.

The NFPA, for example, does this in the form of a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA). Additionally, changes may take place without a formal notice of change, so it is important to stay current with any given standard. Interested parties can communicate with these standards organizations and suggest changes or revisions in standards.

It is the responsibility of all electrical contractors, electricians, and installers in the field to know which standards apply to any project taking place within any given location or job site. It is also important to remember that not all standards that might apply to every job site or location actually apply. A hazard assessment by the project supervisor or licensed electrician must determine which standards apply at each workplace and that they are followed.


The contractor has the responsibility for assuring that a workplace is free from recognized hazards and is a safe place for electricians and installers to work. This could apply to such factors as the quality of ladders or scaffolding at the site or the need for safety goggles or face masks when performing certain kinds of work.

For example, eye protection should be worn during any grinding or cutting operations that could result in flying chips of metal, and proper face masks should be worn by anyone performing burning or welding that could result in the release of toxic gases.

Designers, engineers, contractors, electricians, or equipment installers and all other persons whose work is governed by one or more standards should be familiar with and know how to apply the rules found in all of the applicable standards. These are the rules that relate to design, including safety considerations, for a particular project or task.

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