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 Tools Evolved Using Prevention through Design Methods

VeriSafe™ Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) from Panduit

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

Before performing electrical work, OSHA and the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace both direct workers to de-energize circuit parts to which an employee may be exposed.

After de-energizing, a qualified electrical worker is required perform a test to verify the absence of voltage. This is a complex testing process that includes a number of steps that can be cumbersome and time-consuming when using hand-held portable test instruments.

Tools that enable workers to safety monitor and test voltage have been evolving for decades. These range from non-contact proximity testers, solenoid testers, voltage detectors, digital multimeters, and an array of installed indicating devices. Each type of tool has advantages and disadvantages that may be specific to the application. Therefore, it is necessary for the electrical worker to understand any limitations of the tool he or she may be using. Selecting the proper tool is critical when verifying the absence of voltage.

Verifying the operation of the voltage test instrument 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. The “live-dead-live” test is a best practice described in NFPA 70E. The “live” portion of the test involves using a known voltage source to verify that the test instrument is operating properly. After proving the tester is operational, you can then proceed to verify that the circuit parts are “dead” or de-energized by testing for voltage phase-to-phase and phase-to-ground. The final step is to verify that the test instrument is still operational by re-testing on a known “live” voltage source. Proving the test instrument is still operational on a known voltage source following the test ensures that there was no damage which would have caused an incorrect reading when performing the “dead” portion of the test. Similarly, OSHA has a requirement to verify the tester is functional after testing for voltage, but only above 600V.

The VeriSafe™ Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) from Panduit simplifies the process to establish an electrically safe work condition by automating the absence of voltage verification process. The idea for the VeriSafe AVT is inspired by Prevention through Design. Prevention through Design is a methodology that focuses on preventing or reducing incidents caused by human error through design steps like eliminating the hazard, making substitutions that reduce the hazard, or introducing engineering controls.

The VeriSafe AVT is a permanently-mounted test device designed to verify that a circuit is de-energized prior to opening an electrical enclosure. With the VeriSafe AVT, the absence of voltage test is initiated with the push of a button; no additional tools are required.

More facilities are designing in advanced safety products that reduce the chances of human error and boost worker productivity. Just as the modern facility has advanced, so too has technology to verify the absence of voltage.

Learn more about Panduit absence of voltage testers here:
http://www.panduit.com/verisafe