Your questions answered: An NFPA 70B and 70E Overview: Eliminate the Risk of Electrical Hazards and Avoid Expensive Shutdowns

The Oct. 25, 2017, “An NFPA 70B and 70E Overview: Eliminate the Risk of Electrical Hazards and Avoid Expensive Shutdowns” webcast presenter addressed questions not covered during the live event.

By Bhanu Srilla, Grace Engineered Products Inc. November 7, 2017

Facility shutdowns due to electrical equipment failures and catastrophic accidents that result from improper maintenance cost organizations millions of dollars in lost revenue, inventory, and injury-related worker compensation. The cost of production downtime alone can be irreplaceable. However, there is also the threat to life safety posed by arc flash occurrences, the potential for reputational damage, and the cost of replacement assemblies and parts to consider. The fear of electrical hazards not only cost organizations in economic loss, but also negatively impacts employee and workplace productivity. These can be catastrophic consequences, particularly in power critical environments, such as process plants, data centers, hospitals, and utilities.

This webcast focuses on the importance of electrical safety and maintenance programs, OSHA requirements, definitions for CFRs 1910.147 & 303 and 305, and guidance of NFPA 70E-2015: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace and 70B-2016: Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance. Topics of discussion include, risk control hierarchy, various methods to eliminate the risk or to mitigate at acceptable levels using safety-by-design engineering controls, technologies and trends in predictive maintenance tools, and the use of remote monitoring tools to proactively monitor the equipment condition that improves overall system reliability and avoid shutdowns.

Presenter Bhanu Srilla, director of product marketing at Grace Engineered Products Inc., responded to questions not answered during the live Eliminate the Risk of Electrical Hazards and Avoid Expensive Shutdowns webcast on Oct. 25, 2017.

Question: What are the common hazards?

Bhanu Srilla: Common hazards are electrical shock and arc flash related burns and injuries.

Q: What if you have no choice and you have to proceed with a shutdown on a critical branch feeding multiple panels downstream that will affect ER, urgent care, and an inpatient department?

Srilla: You have to ensure the critical feeder to ER and urgent care equipment panels are properly transitioned to a backup power system before performing maintenance.

Q: Why would someone choose continuous temperature monitoring over thermography?

Srilla: Continuous temperature monitoring provides data points for predictive monitoring over intermittent infrared (IR) inspections.

Q: Is a low-voltage loose connection a safety issue?

Srilla: Yes, low-voltage loose connections are a bigger safety issue compared to medium- and high-voltage systems as the personnel tend to interfere more frequently with the low-voltage systems on regular maintenance activities.

Q: Why is electrical maintenance a big part of electrical safety?

Srilla: With properly maintained equipment, facilities can greatly benefit in reducing the workplace hazards, downtime, and enhance the productivity metrics while increasing the life of the equipment.

Q: How do you identify critical equipment when developing electrical maintenance programs?

Srilla: All key stakeholders must be involved in identifying the criticality of the equipment. Some of the key people to include in the conversation are the maintenance workers, production supervisors, machine operators, and other safety groups including management functions who have vested interest in overall productivity and operation metrics.

Q: Does OSHA enforce NFPA 70E and 70B standards? And, what’s the link between the three?

Srilla: No, OSHA doesn’t enforce NFPA 70E or 70B standards. However, OSHA will recognize NFPA standards as acceptable means while enforcing the CFRs.

Q: Please note that the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E now has a 6th requirement for Article 130.1(A)(4): Normal Operation.

Srilla: The presentation was not updated with the NFPA 70E 2018 requirements. Yes, we understand the following additional requirement has been added to the Article 130.2. (4).(3) The equipment is used in accordance with instructions Included in the listing and labeling and in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Q: Your presentation is out of date. NFPA 70E -2018 was effective August 21, 2017, and supersedes all previous editions (including the one you were referencing). Several of your NFPA 70E references in the presentation are not all valid now.

Srilla: Yes, the presentation is not updated with the NFPA 70E-2018 requirements.

Q: The NFPA 70B reference slide has an error. Last bullet Section “Section 9 and table 10.18 of the ANSI/NETA/MTS, Standard for Maintenance Testing Specifications for…” reference is not correct if referring to 2016 edition.

Srilla: The section referenced was It was a typo.

Q: Can you address reliability centered maintenance (RCM) as it relates to electrical maintenance? Is it in agreement with 70B requirements? If not, where does it deviate?

Srilla: RCM is identified in Section of 70B-2016 and called out in detail in Chapter 30 and informational Annex N.

Q: Does NFPA 70 require IR frequency as quarterly? Most people with whom I am familiar have an annual program.

Srilla: Routine inspections are to be performed on annual basis. However, frequent inspections, for example, on quarterly or semiannually when warranted by loss experience or any other changes to the equipment or operation conditions. Refer to NFPA 70B-2016 standard section for detailed information.

Q: How do you monitor small 42-pole panelboards? How many sensors would you need?

Srilla: You may choose the connections on the line side, load side, and cable terminations.

Q: Can you use a hot-spot monitor for medium voltage equipment? Is that a substitute for corona cameras or testing equipment that is more concerned with voltage not current because current is not high in medium-voltage equipment?

Srilla: Yes, you can use the hot spot monitor on medium-voltage equipment up to 38 kV.

Q: What products does Grace offer?

Srilla: Grace offers electrical safety and predictive maintenance products, such as permanent electrical safety devices (PESDs), Graceports, and the Hot Spot Monitor.

Q: Does NFPA 70E apply to hybrid electric construction machines?

Srilla: NFPA 70E applies to the electrical safety of equipment of 50 V ac and above and 100 V dc and above.

Q: Are there other acceptable ways to attach an HSM to bus, cables, etc.

Srilla: The Hot Spot Monitor securely connects to the busbars using a standard ½-inch ring style connector. Please contact our office for other connection options.

Q: Did I understand the video presentation correctly, we can remotely monitor the Hot Spot device?

Srilla: Yes, by connecting the Hot Spot Monitor using TCP/IP, EtherNet I/P, or MODBUS communication, the parameters can be monitored remotely to your plant-wide supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.

Q: Do you have any case studies for continuous monitoring? Your cost comparison suggests maintenance/verification of the units is not required. How often would one need to recertify that these devices are functioning? Doesn’t this action introduce the same risk as thermography in the first place?

Srilla: We can provide you with the application case study for Hot Spot Monitor. These devices don’t require any field calibration or recertification. All components are factory calibrated. The device will alarm if it fails to receive a temperature measurement from the sensor.

Q: Does Grace’s sensing device integrate with other manufacturers’ electrical communication apparatus used in the switchgear or is it a standalone proprietary device?

Srilla: The Grasencse Hot Spot Monitor will easily integrate with other manufacturers’ electrical communication apparatus.

Q: Are there any indicators that OSHA would actively support continuous monitoring? This would assist with support for the capital expenditure.

Srilla: Not that we are aware of. However, very many insurance companies support the predictive maintenance programs and incentivize on their insurance premium costs.

Q: Do I have to shut down the panel to land the wires on an off breaker?

Srilla: Yes, the equipment needs to be shut down to land sensor fiber cables and install the device in the low-voltage compartment.

Q: Does uncovered holes on equipment, such as panels, motor control center buckets, and others, violate NFPA 70B, 70E, or OSHA standards?

Srilla: Yes, as the equipment is not considered in normal working condition per NFPA 70E with doors open, and uncovered holes. There may be an exception when the holes or uncovered openings are documented and as part of the equipment design and approved and listed by the equipment manufacturer for their respective ratings.

Q: Because continuous monitoring would identify problem areas that cannot be seen with an IR window, how are those areas defined, to properly apply the system?

Srilla: IR windows can only see the hot spots where an IR camera can be directed.

Q: Would an IR gun be the first stage in preventive maintenance checks rather than IR thermal imaging?

Srilla: IR windows can only see the hot spots where an IR camera can be directed. Hot Spots can be applied to the systems that are not visible to the IR camera inspections.

Q: What is safer, closed or open panel thermography?

Srilla: Closed door thermography is safer than open door thermography.

Q: In data rooms are actual “Emergency Power Off” tests required?

Srilla: I assume the question is “Is exercising electrical power systems required in data centers?” Exercising backup power systems are requirements of NFPA 110-2016: Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems.

Q: Is the InterNational Electrical Testing Association (NETA) maintenance testing standard a recognized standard?

Srilla: Yes, NETA testing and maintenance standards are recognized in the NFPA 70B.

Q: Is continuous monitoring accepted by insurance companies?

Srilla: Yes, it is accepted by insurance companies.