As the old saying goes: “There’s Safety in Numbers.”

But today, we are going to continue to talk about: “There’s Safety in Structures.”

Industrial Facilities have lots of structures that need to be safe. So let’s talk through some more of them.

Like the COVID-19 Virus “Social Distancing” human requirement: the National Electrical Code (NEC) states that there is a safe “Working Space Clearance” requirement for Electrical Enclosures.

When it comes to facility electrical safety, one of the most overlooked areas is safe working space around electrical enclosures, junction boxes, power distribution equipment, and process equipment including vendor skids.

Working Space Clearances for electrical equipment rated for levels lower than 1000 volts are stated in Article 110.26 of the NEC.

To summarize this article, the working space width is the width of the panel or a minimum of 30 inches, the working space height is 78 inches and working space depth is based on conditions and voltages listed in Table 110.26(A)(1).  In all cases a hinged door needs to open to a 90-degrees angle.

Following installation, maintaining the clearance around this equipment is vital to the safety of personnel.  It has been our experience that areas around this equipment is often used as a storage area for ladders, brooms, storage cabinets, pallets of material or finished goods.  We recommend outlining the area with yellow paint or tape to remind employees to keep this area clear. If there is vehicular traffic in the area of the electrical equipment, substantial guarding may be considered to act as both protection of the panel and maintaining required clearance in front of it.

Respecting the working area clearance will aid in the elimination of slips, trips, falls, strains and possible electrical shock due to items in the way of or having to reach around to access electrical equipment.  Safe and easy access to this equipment needs keep kept in the forefront.

Please take the time to look at your plant’s electrical equipment clearances. If you find them to be occupied with materials or equipment, please find ways to improve them. 

If you need our help in conducting an audit of your plant’s electrical equipment clearances: the Electrical Team at Pearl Engineering is familiar with the NEC Article 110.26 and can provide support regarding Working Space Clearance or any other Electrical design criteria concerns.

If you would also like us to come to do a presentation for your plant on electrical clearances, we would be glad to do that.