It is impossible to know the answers to all of the questions we are faced with on a regular basis; each job site will have unique and nuanced requirements. That said, it is critical to know appropriate and knowledgeable resources. Early in my career with Eaton Corporation, I worked in a technical application call center that took technical calls on advanced products manufactured by Eaton. I learned a valuable lesson in those years of my career: a sense of ownership is key to success, and you are as knowledgeable as the most knowledgeable resource programmed in your cell phone or stored in your email contact database. How you build that database is most important. I have grown my database through my connections that I made as a member of IAEI. You can build yours as well through your IAEI membership and the opportunities and value that it has to offer. As an IAEI member, you are in the company of knowledgeable individuals who know the answers to the questions you receive and who are eager to help. Joining the IAEI was your first step to being a valued resource to those with whom you work and to your customers. Get involved, attend meetings and network with your fellow members. This can help make your business successful. Today’s focus of Safety in Our States is on knowing your resources. This is very fundamental to safety. Inaccurate answers and unanswered questions can be dangerous and detrimental to safety; especially, if you are inspecting an installation for safety and code requirements.
Although it may be difficult to attend the IAEI section meetings, but we should be able to attend local meetings. It is at these meetings that we encounter individuals that are passionate about electrical safety. The organizations and contacts in this edition of Safety in Our States agreed to have their information publicized to IAEI members because they too see the value in networking. They understand how important it is to electrical safety that questions receive quality answers. Hopefully, this edition of Safety in Our States will come in handy when you have a question that begs an accurate answer that you may not personally be able to provide; use it to look for your starting point and phone a friend. The most important quality of someone from whom you are seeking help is ownership. The smartest person on the other end of that phone just may be the smartest person programmed into his/her cell phone or email contact list.
Know Your Resources
It is important to know both who to call and why you would call that person or organization.
National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)
NEMA represents more than 50 diverse product sections that are grouped into eight divisions. NEMA’s 430 member companies manufacture products ranging from x-ray machines and CT scanners to motors and generators, lamps, luminaires, cable tray, building wire, enclosures, traffic controls, nurse call systems, batteries, residential control, and much more. The NEMA members work together to create technical standards, to decide on legislative and regulatory issues, to collect and report on economic and market data and to produce product-based educational and marketing collateral that is very beneficial to the industry. This group works closely with IAEI through four key representatives. Each has a district for which he/she is responsible. You would contact these individuals when you need to know more information about the application of an electrical product, are looking for guidance in connecting with the right resources of a specific manufacturer for product questions and concerns, or have adoptions issues of the NEC in your jurisdiction.
National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
There are resources within NFPA to help ensure your state adopts the latest version of the National Electrical Code. NFPA´s regional offices promote the adoption of NFPA codes and standards by state and local authorities, assure appropriate representation at code hearings and legislative sessions, coordinate activities with NFPA staff and key constituencies and identify ways NFPA services can improve fire, building, and life safety in their regions. These regional offices also support research, education, membership, and other NFPA activities. Contact these individuals when you see that electrical safety is at risk through amendments to the National Electrical Code in your district or your state. They have the resources to educate on the value of the Code.
Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)
The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or that can injure children. The CPSC works to ensure the safety of consumer products and has contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years. Much like the song verse, “keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.” The CPSC can help identify the pot holes in the road. Keep an eye on this resource.
Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL)
The Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) Program is part of OSHA’s Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management. This is a program that is designed to recognize private sector organizations as NRTLs, and to signify that the organization has met the necessary qualifications specified in the program’s regulations. In the words from OSHA’s web site (http://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/nrtl/index.html#nrtls), “The NRTL determines that specific equipment and materials (“products”) meet consensus-based standards of safety to provide the assurance, required by OSHA, that these products are safe for use in the U.S. workplace.”
You can find the certification marks of these organizations on many products that you use on a daily basis for work and at home. Organizations with which you may be familiar include
• Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
• Intertek Testing Services NA Inc. (ITSNA)
• MET Laboratories (MET)
• TUV SUD America Inc (TUVAM)
• TUV Rheinland of North America (TUV)
• Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
• Wyle Laboratories (WL)
These organizations put products through rigorous testing protocols to help ensure safety. When you have a question or concern about a product with a marking belonging to one of these organizations, it is important to know who to call.