For many years, the Oregon – Columbia NECA / IBEW L.U. 48 Commercial / Industrial Agreement, under section 10.04, required two Journeymen when working on ALL energized circuits and equipment operating at, or above, 440V AC and / or 250V DC.
At the time this language was agreed upon, safety standards such as the NFPA 70E, The Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, and arc flash calculation methods such as IEEE – 1584 did not exist.
Today, we have a number of ways to better predict and assess risks related to working on, or near, exposed energized electrical circuits and equipment. Additionally, new safety design features such as shock protection barriers, arc blast venting, remote switching and overcurrent protective devices with maintenance mode settings used to lower arc flash and blast intensities can be used to reduce overall risk.
When the OSHA / NFPA 70E defined justifiable energized work to be performed has an increased level of risk, employers must also determine when additional personnel are necessary to accomplish the work and to have a first aid / CPR trained person ready to respond in the event of an incident.
Recently adopted CBA language no longer uses the voltage level as the only determining factor when additional personnel are required. Employers must conduct a thorough assessment of the work tasks and procedures, the condition of the electrical equipment, maintenance considerations, shock and arc exposure levels and the qualifications of those performing the particular tasks.
The new language reads as follows:
All justifiable energized electrical work shall be planned out following NFPA 70E procedures to analyze electrical hazards and determine when conditions warrant additional personnel to assist with the electrical tasks or to provide first aid / CPR duties.
While seemingly clear, confusion in the field as to when at least 2 qualified persons are necessary for energized work is apparent. Both JWs and apprentices can be used for first aid / CPR response when protected from the electrical hazards however, apprentices are limited to maximum exposures of 250V AC or less only after completing their first full year of apprenticeship AND when working within arms-length of a qualified JW.
Contact me if you have any questions about these risk assessments and application of the CBA language.