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Are Your Electrical Workers Qualified?

Jane Alexander | May 14, 2018

Using only ‘Qualified Persons’ to perform electrical work can greatly reduce the risk to the safety of employees, as well as increase reliability of electrical systems and equipment.
Using only ‘Qualified Persons’ to perform electrical work can greatly reduce the risk to the safety of employees, as well as increase reliability of electrical systems and equipment.

Electrical power systems today are often very complex.

Protective devices, controls, instrumentation, and interlock systems demand that personnel be trained and qualified at a high technical skill level. Safety and operating procedures used in working on these systems are equally as complex, requiring technicians to be expertly trained in all required skills, as well as safety practices and procedures. What, exactly, does this mean—and include? Dennis Neitzel, director emeritus of the AVO Training Institute, Dallas, (avotraining.com), sought to answer the question in a recent white paper.

Neitzel began his discussion by pointing to a serious misconception throughout industry that a licensed Journeyman or Master Electrician constitutes a “Qualified Person.” This is not necessarily true. Consider the following: A Journeyman or Master license is obtained through a required number of years working under a licensed electrician (depending on the state, county, or municipality requirements) and passing a National Electrical Code (NEC) exam. As an example, a licensed Master Electrician may have 10 years of hands-on field experience and qualifications in wiring residential buildings but would not be experienced or qualified to work in a manufacturing facility and, consequently, could not be hired as a Qualified Person.

The OSHA 29 CFR 1910.399 defines a Qualified Person as, “One who has received training in and has demonstrated skills and knowledge in the construction and operation of electric equipment and installations and the hazards involved.” OSHA and NFPA 70E have strict requirements for training that go hand-in-hand with such qualification—requirements that the white paper goes to great lengths to clarify. Among other things, qualified employees are required to be trained and competent in:

• skills and techniques necessary to distinguish live parts from others
• 
skills and techniques necessary to determine the nominal voltage
• 
minimum approach distances to live parts
• 
proper use of:

• special precautionary techniques
• 
insulating and shielding materials
• 
insulated tools and test equipment
• 
job planning.

Neitzel also highlighted specific requirements for employers, including, through regular supervision and annual inspections, that they verify employees are complying with safety-related work practices. They may also be required to provide additional training or retraining in cases of:

• supervision or annual inspection indicating non-compliance with work practices
• 
new technology
• 
new types of equipment
• 
changes in procedures
• 
employees required to use work practices they normally do not use.

The white paper provides important clarity around issues of electrical-worker qualification. Click here to download the full document. EP

AVO has been a leader in hands-on safety and maintenance training for the electrical industry for over 50 years. A member of the privately owned Megger (megger.com) family of companies, the AVO Training Institute currently offers more than 57 courses in a variety of settings. Learn more at avotraining.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander

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