Safer Absence of Voltage Testing Begins with Simplicity

VeriSafe – Absence of Voltage Tester

There’s an interesting new exception in the 2018 edition of the tri-yearly NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace for the use of an Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) in place of handheld instruments.

In Asia Pacific, NFPA is the commonly referenced standard for mitigating electrical hazards in lock-out/tag-out (LOTO) practices. This exception opens plants and factories in the region to new opportunities in improving safety programs and planned maintenance efficiency.

Here’s why.

In factory machine servicing, the LOTO guidelines protect maintenance staff from electrical hazards, by mandating that an electrical professional first verify the absence of voltage, before maintenance, service or inspection work can begin. However, the guidelines don’t articulate the removal of the hazard, only in transferring the risk from the maintenance staff to the electrician.

This is not an ideal workaround, as no one knows if the energy discharge has been successful without first opening the electrical enclosure for tests. As such, the risk of the electrician getting a painful electrical shock or even dangerous arc flash, remains.

The beauty of an AVT then, is in how it overcomes the dilemma.

INTRODUCING AVT FOR SIMPLICITY
Panduit has recently released the first full-featured AVT product to general availability, and it is game-changing in its innovative approach to an old problem.

Called VeriSafe, the SIL rated, NFPA 70E-2018 120.5 (7) Exception 1 compliant AVT is permanently installed on the electrical enclosure of the equipment that it is testing for. Sitting on the panel door between the circuit and the outside of the enclosure, the self-contained unit consists of a testing and isolation component on the inside of the door, and a push button that faces externally.

The user pushes the button to activate the device, which runs an automated sequence of in-built pre-/post-verification tests, such as phase-to-phase and phase-to-ground testing for AC and DC voltage – to arrive at an active indication in as quickly as ten seconds!

What’s more, VeriSafe ships with a connectivity option as a standard. This allows smart facilities that run software management systems to draw essential logs and alerts from a connected VeriSafe device in real-time.

THE VERISAFE IMPACT
To plants and factories, safety pays. Electrical injuries can account for one of the highest average workers’ compensation costs, second only to motor vehicle accidents. Although estimates vary, studies indicate the average direct cost of an electrical injury ranges US$50,000 to $80,000, while indirect cost can exceed these numbers by a factor of nearly four, to include:

• Wages paid during work stoppage
• Administrative costs related to injury
• Property damage and repair
• Training and compensation for replacement workers
• Lost productivity with less experienced workers
• Lost productivity from low staff morale
• Fines related to workplace safety violations
• Potential increase in absenteeism

Because VeriSafe diffuses electrical risks right at the start, every potential incident avoided can translate to massive savings from side stepping a string of personal injury, and property and equipment damage costs.

VeriSafe also makes the absence of voltage testing more accurate and far less risky than the manual process – as its standardized, compliant and automated approach leaves little room for error on an effectively reduced workflow. With VeriSafe AVT installed in all high-risk machinery, large-scale facility lifecycle management activities can experience a cumulation of cost and time savings, to significantly benefit high-pressure events, such as a maintenance turnaround.

For more information, please visit www.panduit.com/verisafe

How Electrical Safety Technology Advancements Move From Ideas to Implementation

The VeriSafe AVT is a permanently-mounted test device designed to verify that a circuit is de-energized prior to opening an electrical enclosure.

The VeriSafe™ Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) from Panduit simplifies the testing process by automating the voltage verification process.

 

When servicing electrical equipment, OSHA and the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace both direct these qualified electrical workers to de-energize all live parts to which an employee may be exposed.

Thus, the worker is required perform a voltage verification test to validate the absence of voltage. This is a complex testing process that includes a number of stages that can be cumbersome and time-consuming when using hand-held portable test instruments.

Before the testing even beings, it’s important for the worker to think ahead and not be forced to stop work to fetch other tools or testers that might throw their focus and contribute to an electrical accident.

Electrical safety, in terms of tools, has been advancing for decades. Today, we have infrared thermometers, cameras, and windows as well as laser distance meters and non-contact voltage detectors.

Early non-contact tools, like low-voltage, proximity testers were (and still are) good for a first test for voltage, but they required follow up with a direct-contact meter.

In general, proximity testers are flawed in that they may not work in all situations, as their readings are thrown off by a number of specific circumstances.

Solenoid testers used to be a popular tool of choice, but when voltage drops below 90 volts, the tool wasn’t reliable in indicating that voltage is present.

Some solenoid units with indicator lights stop lighting up at about 30 volts, some are prone to wear and scarring leaving inabilities to see voltage and today, solenoid testers aren’t fused and don’t comply with CAT safety rating requirements.

After the solenoid tester came the multimeter, which is a good tool for making accurate contact measurements to identify live circuits. However, one of the most common mistakes workers make when using a multimeter is turning it to the wrong function (amps instead of volts).

Verifying the operation of the voltage tester itself is also a task that needs to be performed.

Before beginning the absence of voltage test, it’s important to check the test instrument to ensure it is working properly – this is known as the  “live-dead-live” test, which is mandated by OSHA and is also required by the NFPA 70E when voltage is above 50 volts. The live-dead-live requirement was written into 70E in the 2009 update.

The VeriSafe™ Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) from Panduit simplifies the testing process by automating the voltage verification process.

Voltage indicators are tools that can warn of hazardous voltage but cannot be used to confirm if the equipment is de-energized. The VeriSafe AVT is a permanently-mounted test device designed to verify that a circuit is de-energized prior to opening an electrical enclosure.

The idea for VeriSafe came as a product of Prevention through Design. In concept, it was designed to eliminate or avoid the electrical hazard.

With VeriSafe, the absence of voltage test is initiated with the push of a button; No additional tools required. The simplified process of automating for voltage verification is here.

More facilities are implementing advanced safety-first systems that remove doubt, reduce the chances of human error and boost worker productivity.

Just as the modern facility has advanced, so too has test technology that verifies the absence of voltage.

Learn more about Panduit absence of voltage testers here: https://www.panduit.com/en/products/safety-security/active-safety-devices/absence-of-voltage-testers.html