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Thread: Clearance in front of disconnects ( Would OHSA cite us ? )

  1. #1
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    Clearance in front of disconnects ( Would OHSA cite us ? )

    Have a row of Electrical disconnect's ( 7 - 30 amp 480V ) that feed various immersion heaters in process tanks in a Anodize room . Management seems to think that material on carts can be pushed up to the disconnect's as long as carts have wheels and can be pushed out of the way . I say OHSA can write us up for this for not maintaining the proper clearance . We are into lean and Kaizen and reducing the " FOOT PRINT " . This is starting to become a regular issue . Would like to get some opinions on this .... PS. Would also like to say thanks for the help every one gives on questions , I do appreciate it .

  2. #2
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    A matter of dispute here and elsewhere I am sure. I contend that nonfused disconnects do not require clearance, when you consider that a wall receptacle is a non fused disconnect, it bear s a little more weight. Regarding portable equipment you get in a greyer area. I still feel that for a disconnect it is OK, but I am not an AHJ. It would also depend on the typical use of the disconnect to me. Others may give you positive (or negative) answers, but it is subject to interpretation no matter how sure someone here is.


    That is just my opinion. I could be right.

  3. #3
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    We have some of the issues here as well. I make them move the carts, trash barrels, etc. I don't see any exemption for items on wheels.

    1910.303(g)(1)
    Space about electric equipment. Sufficient access and working space shall be provided and maintained about all electric equipment to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance of such equipment.

    and depending on how long that "cart" could stay there:

    1910.303(g)(1)(ii)
    Working space required by this standard may not be used for storage. When normally enclosed live parts are exposed for inspection or servicing, the working space, if in a passageway or general open space, shall be suitably guarded.
    -Mark

    Industrial Occ. Safety & Health

    "Remember to pillage before you burn"

  4. #4
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    I ran into this issue in a computer room once ....

    I said 'we need clearance.' They replied "it's all on wheels, so you can make the working space you need.'

    The fault in that logic became clear a few months later. By then, the cabinets were stuffed full of gear and had all manner of cables dropping to them. Sure, they could move- if you had a forklift, and didn't care about tearing the cables. This was especially true of the UPS battery cart - that thing was HEAVY.

    We've also seen countless 'electrical rooms' stuffed with the janitors' stuff. Funny how this never happens in the elevator room!

    It's bad enough that a pushcart gets parked out of the way ... but to deliberately plan on filling the space with "portable" gear is, IMO, a violation. The space is needed to service the equipment, and your job is to service the equipment NOW - not after twenty minutes of shuffling stuff around. Besides- where will the stuff go? Into aisles, etc .... making the job a never-ending moving day.

    Bad design, poor management, and definitely not 'kaizen.' Code trumps any 'feel-good' management fad.

    "Kaizen," btw., described a process of continuous improvement. What you describe is not an improvement. It's quite the opposite.

    I'd document the issue as: "IMO, as a licensed and qualified trade professional, the storage or staging of anything within the 'working space' is a violation of the NEC. Such a practice is directly contrary to the Federal mandate, as described in the OSHA statute (CFR 2910) that the employer provide a safe working environment. Please note that penalties for violations are determined, in part, by whether the violation was a deliberate decision on the part of the employer."

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strathead View Post
    A matter of dispute here and elsewhere I am sure. I contend that nonfused disconnects do not require clearance, when you consider that a wall receptacle is a non fused disconnect, it bear s a little more weight. Regarding portable equipment you get in a greyer area. I still feel that for a disconnect it is OK, but I am not an AHJ. It would also depend on the typical use of the disconnect to me. Others may give you positive (or negative) answers, but it is subject to interpretation no matter how sure someone here is.


    That is just my opinion. I could be right.
    As an inspector I have always gone along with this thinking too.
    I can build anything you want if you draw a picture of it on the back of a big enough check.

    There's no substitute for hard work....but that doesn't mean I'm going to give up trying to find one.

    John Childress
    Electrical Inspector
    IAEI / CEI / C10
    Certified Electrical Inspector

  6. #6
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    Code, no code, OHSA, no OSHA,,,,,


    What if you have to pull the disco open in an emergency? You wanna have to move and/or trip over carts?


    The Triangle Shirtwaist Company was to code too, and a couple hundred girls got burned up or jumped to their deaths there.
    Last edited by Joethemechanic; 01-26-12 at 08:31 PM.
    Proverbs 31;10


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joethemechanic View Post
    What if you have to pull the disco open in an emergency?
    Disconnects are not the same as "Emergency Power Off" devices, which is one reason they are allowed to be installed in areas only accessible by ladders.
    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joethemechanic View Post
    The Triangle Shirtwaist Company was to code too, and a couple hundred girls got burned up or jumped to their deaths there.
    I am pretty sure there was no code that allowed the doors to be chained shut.
    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim dungar View Post
    I am pretty sure there was no code that allowed the doors to be chained shut.


    Block and Harris were cleared of any wrongdoing in court


    BTW, just a few years ago I saw Walmart doing just that at the Franklin Mills store in Philly. They chained the doors shut to keep the night shift from stealing
    Last edited by Joethemechanic; 01-26-12 at 09:20 PM.
    Proverbs 31;10


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joethemechanic View Post
    BTW, just a few years ago I saw Walmart doing just that at the Franklin Mills store in Philly. They chained the doors shut to keep the night shift from stealing
    I have never seen anything stating Walmart prevented the use of the fire/emergency exits. Yes they threatened disciplinary action, if these were used, like just about every manufacturing plant I go into these days.

    But exit doors and disconnects are two different things. There are several places in the NEC that acknowledge a difference between 'accessible' and 'readily accessible'. I feel working space does not need to be permanent.
    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

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