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       May is National Electrical Safety Month

One must be aware that preparing for an electrical license exam may be based on requiring the use of a National Electrical Code book that is not the present 2017 National Electrical Code book.

One must remember the National Electrical Code sets the minimum requirements for electrical installations and equipment. 

   We often forget about how important the NEC is to those working on,in and around electrical equipment. The National Electrical Code is a living, breathing document that seeks the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricty.
    The comments for the 2011 NEC, a total of 2,935 comments were submitted to revise the 2008 NEC. 3,745 Proposals submitted recommending changes from the 2011 NEC to the 2014 NEC. According to the NFPA, 4,012 public inputs were submitted to the NFPA recommending changes from the 2014 NEC to the 2017 NEC.

    The new NEC is issued in the fall. At that time, an electrician was to purchase the new NEC and study the changes and additions and possibly attend a seminar explaining the major changes.
    When January came, the new NEC was to be adopted by the building department and the licensing agency was to base the exam questions from the new NEC.
    Not that way today! Today with all our so called leaders, politicians on government boards making the new rules, it not only changes from state to state, county to county, city to city on which NEC you will be tested.
    If you should be involved in a personal injury or death jury case, of the over 3,000 to 4,000 changes to improve electrical safety made each 3 years, I can only hope that your installation was with the current NEC.
    The court wants to hear that your wiring installation was with the current National Electrical Code. 
    Why do we put ourselves in a situation with a loss of life before we understand why the rules were written? Every rule in your safety manual is written in somebody's blood. The freedom and safety that you and I enjoy in our communities in large part is due to the sacrifice of others. 
   What I see today is a premium put on one's knowledge of electrical safety and the liability that follows. The quantity of lawyers and law suits far exceed the number of contractors.
    We cannot afford to do business the way we did "in the old days." A serious electrical injury can cost $17 million. Always stay educated in the latest NEC edition, keep up with the changes!
    Education plays a key role in ensuring that electrical contractors, electrical engineers, electrical apprentices, and inspectors are up-to-date on current codes and new advances in technology.
    Now let's go to the real world. It is impossible for an electrical inspector to sign-off and verify that every connection, box size, wire size, support, clamp, cable, bend, etc. is code-compliant. No way! The inspector would have to observe the electrician every minute, every hour, every day until the job is complete and the power is turned on.
    The electrician is responsible for the correct installation of electrical wiring, not the inspector. The following is why education is so important in the electrical industry. 
    Your responsibility? As my lawyer pointed out to me one afternoon while sitting in my living room preparing for an upcoming jury trial, he said, "tom, do you realize if a neighbor asked you how to install the wires to a switch in his home and you explain to him on how to connect the wiring and for some reason the house burn down, you are liable?"
    Do you realize that most final electrical inspections are signed-off without the power ever being turned on. That's equivalent to finalizing a swimming pool without water!

Sovereign Immunity Educating the Electrician

    Sovereign immunity in the United Sates is the legal privilege by which the American federal, state, and tribal governments cannot be sued.

    This means the powers to be are exempt. Which means in most cases the inspector is not held responsible. That is, the inspector didn't actually create the hazard or make the improper installation, the installer did.
    Government employees are protected from lawsuits under the concept of sovereign immunity as long as they were using their professional judgment.
    Sovereign immunity ("the King can do no wrong") dates back to the 13th century England. Since the King's will was the law, if the King did something, it was inherently legal. The King could not be sued in the King's Court because the Court's authority was subordinate to the King.

    According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2011 an estimated 47,700 home structure fires were reported to U.S. fire departments; these involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to ignition. These fires resulted in 418 civilian deaths, 1,570 civilian injuries, and $1.44 billion in direct property damage.

Resources Address Electric Shock Drowning Dangers
    Summer is the peak time for water-based leisure activities and despite the fact that swimming and boating are recreational by nature, the age-old caution that water and electricity do not mix must be strictly enforced. Each year, too many lives are lost due to a serious hazard that is still not widely understood: electric shock drowning (ESD). Known as the "invisible killer," ESD occurs in fresh water when a typically low-level alternating current passes through the body, causing muscular paralysis and eventual drowning.

    The National Electrical Code first addresses GFCI protection in marinas with the 2011 revision, which introduced the requirement of GFCI protection in marinas and boatyards. Inspections were recommended annually but were not enforced in states that had not passed legislation to address the ESD problem.
    The new 2017 National Electric Code improved upon this requirement and includes two important changes. The first reduces the maximum level of ground-fault protection of equipment in marinas and boatyards from 100mA to 30mA. This change is intended to limit the amount of electrical current that can pass into the water, which reduces the hazards that lead to electric shock drowning.

    The second important change in the new 2017 National Electrical Code requires mandatory signage at key locations. Much like related state legislation, signage must be posted at all marina and boatyard facilities that proclaims: "WARNING - POTENTIAL SHOCK HAZARD - ELECTRICAL CURRENTS MAY BE PRESENT IN THE WATER." Further, swimming is to be prohibited within 164 feet (50 meters) of any dock that has power.

    The new 2017 National Electrical Code is a critical turning point for combating Electric Shock Drowning. However, states must adopt the latest edition of the National Electrical Code in order to benefit from its protection. As of March 1, 2017, Massachusetts is the only state to adopt the 2017 National Electrical Code.
    This article was written as a wake up call for those in the electrical industry of the real world as it is today. One must be educated beyond the average in the law and the rules. This defines Sovereign Immunity and you will learn the true meaning of the word liability. 
    In a personal injury or death case it's not difficult for the jury to reach a guilty verdict of installing wiring to an outdated National Electrical Code when the electrical expert explains to the jury you obtained an electrical license from an exam using an older National Electrical Code when the current Code contained changes that would have prevented the hazard.
    We need to raise the awareness of the importance of full and prompt adoption of the new 2017 National Electrical Code.

    For comments on this "Viewpoint" by Tom Henry you can send him an email @ If we can get enough support maybe we can change the way the our leaders think!

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