The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publication NFPA 70®: National Electrical Code® (NEC), sets electrical safety standards for residential, commercial and industrial settings. This code, which is updated every three years, outlines the minimum requirements for installing and maintaining electrical equipment.

One of the standards outlined in the NEC, and an area that Pearl Engineering and Senior Engineering Associate Steve Phillips has experience in, is the working spaces around such machinery and equipment.

Electrical Working Clearances

According to Steve, the NEC Working Space is defined as the designated area around electrical equipment where troubleshooting, inspections and examinations can be safely performed by electricians, maintenance personnel and engineers.

Working Space Clearance is dependent on parameters listed in Article 110.26 for electrical equipment under 1000 Volts. In designing electrical equipment under 1000 volts, the Working Space Width is 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 panel door needs to be able to open a 90-degree angle. Steve visualizes a refrigerator box in front of the electrical enclosure for a quick reference.

Frequent Violations

The standards outlined by NEC which Working Space is just one of them were established to give maintenance and electricians necessary safe space to work. Not providing this space is a violation and a major safety risk.

Aside from not allowing the necessary Working Space, another common violation is the misuse of the space around the equipment. For instance, Steve has seen this space being used as storage for boxes and cleaning equipment.

“It’s the same concept as standing a ladder in front of a door, a major fire safety violation,” Steve explained. “It may be a relatively easy fix, but while it is there it is a serious hazard.”

Steve and the team at Pearl Engineering have worked in collaboration with clients to prepare condition reports for purchase of existing industrial properties.

Have a complex situation that can utilize Pearl Engineering’s experience with the National Electrical Code? Steve and the rest of the Pearl Engineering team can provide you with an innovative solution to your situation. Contact the team to learn more!