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Understanding North American Electrical Codes to Reduce Electrical Injuries and Fatalities

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Understanding North American Electrical Codes to Reduce Electrical Injuries and Fatalities

Understanding North American Electrical Codes, in whole or in part, can be used in reducing electric injuries and fatalities from accidents involving electric power systems, especially on overhead power lines. This paper covers aspects of both codes and includes electric supply stations and safety for electrical workers and the general public.

The NESC is a safety code primarily used by electric utilities and large industrial facilities in North America. NFPA 70E is a more universal code used by the power industry to provide a safer workplace. While these codes are primarily used in North America, the content of these codes could be adopted globally to promote better electrical safety. In the United States, roughly 36% of occupational electrical fatalities (approximately 108 annually) involve contact with overhead power lines.

Statistics for electrical accidents involving injury or death are scant or nonexistent in developing countries. The continent of Africa is composed of 54 countries, practically all of which are developing countries. For comparison the population of India, which is also a developing nation, is approximately 1.3 billion people while that of the continent of Africa is 1.2 billion. Within India, it is estimated that over 8000 electrical fatalities from overhead power lines occur annually. Similar statistics are unavailable for Africa, though literature regarding snakes, snakebites and snakebite deaths is readily available. Anecdotal reports indicate that electrical injuries and fatalities in African countries are relatively high.

Understanding NESC and NFPA70E, the North American Electrical Safety Codes (NESC), is primarily used and beneficial in North America by electric utility companies for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of electric power systems. It is also commonly used by industrial facilities that own and operate large power systems including the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. As will be shown later, the NESC has evolved over the last 100 years from a National Bureau of Standards document to its current form as ANSI C2, The National Electrical Safety Code. In many parts of the world such as Africa countries, such codes either do not exist or are not as complete as the current NESC. As such, the adoption of the present and future NESC’s on a global basis would be a major step in reducing the number of overhead power line injuries and fatalities. While this paper concentrates on reducing overhead power line related injuries and fatalities, the paper will also cover electric supply stations, underground power lines, and worker safety rules.

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Understanding the North American Electrical Codes for Global Adoption in Reducing Electrical Injuries and Fatalities