How to ensure your electrical safety program is driving compliance in 2019

Ensuring compliance with an electrical safety program isn’t always easy, but there are plenty of tools available to help you succeed.

As a safety manager, your job is not only to be prepared and consistent with regards to all aspects of plant safety, but also to make sure that everyone else – from management through to janitorial and office staff – prioritize safety as much as you do. Being proactive will result in your facility being in compliance – or not – as well helping to avoid serious injuries and fatalities around the workplace.

A good place to begin preparation is in places that are frequently overlooked. OSHA’s top cited violations tell us that electrical safety falls into this category. Being knowledgeable on the latest updated standards can help modernize your electrical safety programs, while also providing opportunities to address evolving safety concerns with employees so that all are up-to-date on best practices in electrical safety and incidents are avoided.

As one example, OSHA found failing to properly control energy accounted for nearly 10 percent of serious accidents in many industries. Realizing that its existing measures weren’t enough, OSHA recommended the creation of NFPA 70E, a requirement for safe work practices to protect personnel by reducing exposure to major electrical hazards.

OSHA’s general duty clause requires facilities to provide employees with a place of employment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm.” While NFPA 70E is a voluntary standard, with its compliance not required by law, it effectively describes electrical hazards and best practices to mitigate them. Because OSHA regulations are not frequently updated, they will often reference consensus standards such as NFPA 70E as a best practice when issuing citations to the general duty clause.

Implementing NFPA 70E In Your Facility

NFPA 70E helps facilities and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast during maintenance and construction in industrial plants. There are a couple of areas where you will need to update training procedures within your facility in order to comply with NFPA 70E:

An example of lockout/tagout

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO). Every year workers are unnecessarily exposed to hazardous energy sources during servicing, maintenance, or setting up equipment. By implementing a lockout device to ensure that equipment on the energy isolating device cannot be operated until the lockout device is removed and a tagout device to indicate that an energy isolating device may not be operated until the tagout device is removed, risks such as injuries, asset damage and production downtime are diminished.

When it comes to implementing a LOTO program to adhere to NFPA 70E, three types of employees need to be covered:

  • Authorized Employees are responsible for implementing energy control procedures and performing the required servicing or maintenance. Training for Authorized Employees includes details about the type and magnitude of the hazardous energy sources present at the facility, and the methods for isolating and controlling these energy sources. Authorized Employees must also receive training on machine-specific procedures.
  • Affected Employees operate equipment or work in an area in which an energy control procedure is being implemented. Affected employees are not themselves responsible for locking and tagging out, but must understand their purpose in order to avoid attempts to start up or use equipment during these procedures.
  • Other Employees include office or warehouse personnel who may work in an area where an energy control procedure is utilized.

Verifying Absence of Voltage. When electrical maintenance is needed, NFPA 70E requires that workers establish and verify equipment is in an electrically safe state. This involves a test for absence of voltage. Although NFPA 70E is comprehensive around LOTO guidelines and the need to first verify the absence of voltage, it does not articulate the removal of hazards before this maintenance or inspection begins, therefore increasing risk to the electrician. Eliminating a hazard is the most effective method according to the hierarchy of controls, and should be the first choice whenever possible. NFPA 70E emphasizes the need to work on electrical systems only when they are placed in an electrically safe working condition, but creating and verifying this condition requires more than just de-energizing, as it involves multiple steps to confirm the system is safe and to verify the absence of voltage.

Absence of Voltage Testers (AVTs) are permanently-mounted testing devices that are specifically designed to determine if a circuit part is de-­energized prior to opening panels or removing covers to access and maintain electrical equipment. They are designed to automatically run internal diagnostics and administer the live-dead-live type of verification testing with an internal known voltage source and actively indicate the absence of voltage. AVTs also help improve electrical safety through a Prevention through Design approach, making them an ideal option for maintenance and service professionals.

While training can deliver the results a facility is looking for, every plant is different and safety professionals should seek out third-party support in order to better understand the latest standards that can keep them in compliance. For more information on best practices for implementing a modernized safety program, read our new eBook How Understanding the Hierarchy of Controls can Lead to Reduced Electrical Incidents.

Key Indicators for Evaluating a Wire Harness Partner

As wire harnesses become increasingly more complex in both scope and scale, wire harness manufacturers can look to leverage the latest assembly innovations to increase their profitability while following strict quality standards to deliver a quality finished product to their end customer. As new research demonstrates, the demand for wire harness assemblies is beginning to exceed the manufacturers’ capacity. Finding the right wire harness solutions partner has never been more critical.

Quality, consistency, and speed are paramount to the success of a wire harness manufacturer. There are several factors that will determine whether a wire harness manufacturer can deliver on these key indicators:

1. COMPLIANCE WITH KEY INDUSTRY STANDARDS AND REGULATIONS
Wire harness assembly has traditionally relied on manual processes to manufacture and assemble the final product, leaving room for workmanship variances and quality errors. Beyond the regulations providing safety for those involved in the assembly process, a great deal of work has been done to drive quality into the manufacturing process to ensure that a safe and reliable product is delivered to the end customer.

Depending on the region you’re in, you may hear responses ranging from IPC/WHMA to ANCE to CSA to IEC and UL. You can learn more about the industry’s upcoming move to global standards harmonization by registering for our upcoming webinar on August 7 at 1pm CDT.

2. CUSTOMIZATION OR TURN-KEY?
Flexibility in wire harness manufacturing often refers to the ability to quickly deliver customized solutions. As manufacturing becomes more time sensitive, wire harness manufacturers are leveraging new technology to meet that demand. Traditional nail and board wire harness boards don’t always provide the required level of speed and flexibility. The introduction of Modular systems have helped reduce the cost of assembly material, allow for rapid prototyping and job changeover, as well as free up precious production space that was once used to store harness boards.

3. FOCUS ON THROUGHPUT
With wire harness manufacturing being a hands-on industry, the ability to focus – and deliver – on a fast turnaround is essential. As reaction time becomes a bigger part of the industry, the ability to automate the more manual aspects of an assembly will help determine the winners and losers in the industry. One example – automated cable tie installation – reinforces that automation most readily applies to processes that rely on repetitive actions, and that will apply across the most wire harness assemblies.

For decades, Pandit has invented and created wire harness solutions for some of the most important manufacturing processes in the world. Panduit offers comprehensive solutions for wire harness manufacturers, working with leaders across the industry, including:

  • Wire Harness Manufacturers Association – The Wiring Harness Manufacturer’s Association® (WHMA) was established in 1993 to serve and dedicate their resources to the global cable and wire harness industry. WHMA is the ONLY trade association exclusively representing the cable and wire harness manufacturing industry including manufacturers, their suppliers and customers.
  • Cirris Systems – For more than 30 years, Cirris has specialized in cable and harness testing for thousands of applications across consumer devices, hospital and medical equipment, aerospace and more.
  • Delta Sigma Company – An ISO 9001:2008 registered company located in Kennesaw Georgia, Delta Sigma Company specializes in developing systems and tools to automate large, complex, precision assembly and manufacturing processes.
  • Gem Gravure – For over 60 years, Gem Gravure has provided quality printing technology and fluids for marking wire and cable creating product combinations for everything from bottling craft brews to manufacturing electronics.
  • Schleuniger – Schleuniger is a leading international manufacturer of high-precision cable processing machines.
  • Telsonic Ultrasonics – Since 1966, Telsonic Ultrasonics has been a specialist in industrial ultrasonic technology. Telsonic Ultrasonics are certified according to ISO 9001 (SQS) and applies lean production principles.

For more information, read our latest eBook, Best Practices in Wire Harness Manufacturing: Your Guide to Increasing Productivity and Profitability.