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What is the National Electrical Code?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The National Electrical Code, or NEC, is a commonly used standard for installing various types of electrical equipment. It is one of the older standards that are still in use today, though it has been updated and changed many times over the years. If your workplace installs or maintains any type of electrical equipment, you will likely have to be familiar with the NEC in order to be compliant.

History of the National Electrical Code

The NEC was originally published back in 1897. Due to the regularly changing technologies covered by the NEC, a new update is published every three years. The most recent update came out in 2020. The organization that creates and publishes the NEC consists of many different panels that work together to determine what changes are needed with each release.

Today the NEC is a part of the National Fire Code series. This set of standards is released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which is a well-known trade association. The NFPA also sponsors the work that is done on the NEC.

Where the NEC is Used

The NEC is primarily an American organization, but the standards that they develop are used in countries around the world. The NEC standards are not legally required to be followed on their own. Some of their best practices, however, are also incorporated into various OSHA and other regulations, in which case it may be required to follow. In general, however, companies follow the National Electrical Code standards because they have been shown to be so effective over the years.

While these standards are not technically laws, companies may be obligated to follow them in some situations. For example, if a building company fails to follow well known standards (such as those published by the NEC) and something happens that results in the death or injury of a party, they could be held responsible. In some cases, the company could be following best practices published by another organization, but that is not very common. The standards released by the NEC are the most commonly used, and therefore the standard that is most often going to be cited if a lawsuit occurs.

Learning and Following the NEC

Companies that need to follow the NEC will need to understand what sections of it will apply to them. The NEC is published as a book, which is approximately 1000 pages. It is also available electronically for viewing. Given how much information is contained in each version of the NEC, it is easy to see that most companies will only have to worry about specific sections. Determining what requirements apply to your business is an important first step in remaining compliant. The set of codes is broken up into nine chapters, each of which will contain information on a variety of different specific subjects.

Once you have determined what sections apply to the type of work you perform, you will want to provide training to all of your employees who need it. This training will show employees how to safely work with the relevant types of electrical equipment. In most cases, the employees will know the basics of how to do the work but will just need to be shown any specific processes that need to be used in order to be compliant.

Refresher training should also be given to all employees on a regular basis. Of course, every three years when a new version of the NEC is released, new training should be developed and provided to employees. Most organizations and even governmental agencies will not immediately move to the latest version of these standards upon release. Instead, they will take some time to learn more about them before developing the right training processes and putting them into place in their production environments.

Why Follow the NEC?

While some of the NEC standards are requirements in various areas, the vast majority of companies follow these best practices because they are proven to work well. For over 120 years now the NEC has been seen as the organization that publishes the best electrical standards in the industry. Long before there was OSHA or other safety focused governmental agencies, the NEC was followed by companies because of the benefits it provides.

Even long ago, companies recognized the fact that when working with electrical equipment it is important to put safety first. This not only means that when you are installing the equipment you want employees to be safe, but also that the equipment works safely for years to come. The NEC has helped make it easier for companies to avoid various problems and stay up to date with the latest electrical equipment requirements. Today, the NEC continues to keep up with all the rapidly advancing electrical systems and provide excellent information to companies that work with it.

Wire and Cable Management

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Wire and Cable ManagementAn important, but often overlooked, way to ensure effective electrical safety practices is to have a cable management system. It’s important to keep wires and cables untangled and orderly so that workers can understand the system they’re dealing with and avoid accidents. Not only will cable management improve the safety of your workplace, it can make for faster repairs, a better organized operation, and can actually save you money.

When you have a large amount of cables, you may need to use some other tools to stay organized and manageable. Zip ties are commonly used to hold cables together in place, keeping the cables from becoming a giant tangled mess. Another frequently used tool is a cable mount. These mounts sometimes feature a zip tie and often have an adhesive backing to attach to desks, walls, or other surfaces.

Identifying wires with cable wraps is the most efficient way to ensure your wires are clearly marked. Instead of using small, handwritten labels, you can easily create your own cable wraps with an industrial label printer to make sure wires are marked with legible, printed text. The information included can be words, pictograms, or numbers that correspond to the cable management system. These wire markings make completing electrical work in your facility safer, easier, and more efficient.

Electricity is present in nearly every step in manufacturing, construction, and most other industrial settings. Electricity-related accidents are also some of the most deadly and damaging hazards that can occur in the workplace. An incorrectly labeled wire can end in tragic catastrophe; therefore, it’s crucial to abide by the wire color code standards set forth by the proper agencies in your country, and good wire/cable management.

Whether you’re building a toolshed in your backyard or embarking on a million- dollar build at your facility, wiring properly could be the difference between life and death. Following the wire color codes ensure those working around live energy can do their work safely and efficiently. Color conveys a lot of information about wires, so it’s critical that workers have a basic understanding of wire color codes before they do anything energy-related.

Good wire marking practices is the cornerstone to a strong safety program, so it’s important for you to take every precaution necessary to protect employees from accidents. Spend time to develop and implement a comprehensive wire and cable management program and be sure to train employees how to best utilize the system.