forget about how important the NEC is to those working on,in and around
electrical equipment. The National Electrical Code is a living,
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.
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
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
The court wants to hear that your wiring
installation was with the current National
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
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.
electrician is responsible for the correct installation of electrical
wiring, not the
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
Sovereign Immunity Educating the
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
Government employees are protected from lawsuits under the concept of
sovereign immunity as long as they were using their professional
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
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.
comments on this "Viewpoint" by Tom Henry you can send him an email @
firstname.lastname@example.org. If we can get enough support maybe we can
change the way the our leaders think!
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