Existing Classified locations with unclassified gear

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This may have been addressed elsewhere but I couldn't find it. If so, I appologize.

Other than a pure liability issue, is there any clear way to define when it become necessary to upgrade unclassified gear installed within a space which is Classified under current Codes?

Specifically, we often perform design at facilities which were constructed long before current Codes were in force that currently list these environments as Classified. Many of these areas have non-classified gear everywhere. e.g. I've found porcelain screw-base ceiling lamps with pull-chains in C1D1GD areas. When remodeling or adding improvements, our Owner's think I've lost my mind by requiring a NEMA 7 control panel next to a NEMA 1 box containing a FVNR starter (not to mention the huge difference in cost). However, that particular box is no less of a liability to explode than if it was installed on new construction. I understand the existing conditions are "grandfathered" and allowed to remain until replacement is required, but what about "new" equipment going into the same space. If it is never upgraded, the unsafe situtation will be perpetuated forever.

IMHO: Any equipment which is added OR upgraded should comply with the current Codes in force, regardless of the other equipment within the space. Eventually, all the existing (unclassified) equipment will be replaced and/or upgraded. Yes? No? I recognize that the method I've suggested will create a strange "mix" of Classified and Unclassified gear within the space for a number of years as it "evolves" to fully meet Code requirements. Is there ANY language in ANY of the NFPA docs which support either position? Opinions and comments greatly appreciated.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
If a space was originally unclassified, and later became classified, it seems appropriate that at the time when it was classified that the equipment inside the space be dealt with in some way to deal with the new reality.

it seems to me the onus is on the owner to deal with what is already there when a classification changes.

One place I was in once a long while ago had lines painted on the floor to indicate unclassified areas in an otherwise C1D2 area. There was no rhyme nor reason i could see for where they put the unclassified areas. One of them was for a picnic table where people were allowed to smoke. Within a few inches of the line on the floor was a big XP cabinet. why it was "safe" to smoke at the picnic table but a few inches away it was so unsafe that you had to have equipment in an XP box was a bit of a mystery to me.

They had a coke machine with lines painted around it too. And a table with a microwave.

same place had a rule about motorized vehicles. only vehicles with the catalytic converter removed were allowed in certain areas. why the removal of the catalytic convertor made it somehow safe to drive in that area was another mystery.
 
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rbalex

Moderator
Staff member
Assuming a location is properly classified and documented ? NOTHING is ?grandfathered? when the location?s classification changes ? even if it was legal when it was originally installed.

The problem is often that locations are over-classified (?just to be safe?) and then, when the cost of a proper installation raises its ugly head, no one wants to pay for it. But, rather than taking the time to get the classification done properly and installing properly, they want to use ?common sense.? ("It didn?t blow up last week so it must be OK?)


Edit add: The primary danger of not installing to the classification (even if it was improperly over-classified) is it leads to a false sense of security when someone later attempts to use the same type installation in a location that is properly classified. A person?s perceived experience almost always takes precedence to reality.
 
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I recognize that the Annex Sections of NEC are not formal portions of the Code. However, by grandfathering, I was generally referring to NEC Annex H 80.9 (B) and (C).

Say a building at a Wastewater Treatment Plant was constructed 30 years ago. This was long before the release of NFPA 820 (which we heavily use for our current designs). When constructed, almost nothing within these old facilities had ANY hazardous classification requirements. Therefore, we have 30 years of opertion without incident. Clearly, this does not pose any "imminent danger" as described in Annex H.

We now add one new control panel to the area and the heated discussions begin as to the necessary limits of the upgrades.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), in my state, most Wastewater Treatment Plants are local government agencies which do not have any official AHJ to satisfy. As the A/E, it basically falls on us to determine the design requirements. Sounds simpler . . . . but I want to do what is "right", not simply what is "good enough".
 
This may have been addressed elsewhere but I couldn't find it. If so, I appologize.

Other than a pure liability issue, is there any clear way to define when it become necessary to upgrade unclassified gear installed within a space which is Classified under current Codes?

Specifically, we often perform design at facilities which were constructed long before current Codes were in force that currently list these environments as Classified. Many of these areas have non-classified gear everywhere. e.g. I've found porcelain screw-base ceiling lamps with pull-chains in C1D1GD areas. When remodeling or adding improvements, our Owner's think I've lost my mind by requiring a NEMA 7 control panel next to a NEMA 1 box containing a FVNR starter (not to mention the huge difference in cost). However, that particular box is no less of a liability to explode than if it was installed on new construction. I understand the existing conditions are "grandfathered" and allowed to remain until replacement is required, but what about "new" equipment going into the same space. If it is never upgraded, the unsafe situtation will be perpetuated forever.

IMHO: Any equipment which is added OR upgraded should comply with the current Codes in force, regardless of the other equipment within the space. Eventually, all the existing (unclassified) equipment will be replaced and/or upgraded. Yes? No? I recognize that the method I've suggested will create a strange "mix" of Classified and Unclassified gear within the space for a number of years as it "evolves" to fully meet Code requirements. Is there ANY language in ANY of the NFPA docs which support either position? Opinions and comments greatly appreciated.
They are in violation of OSHA.
 

rbalex

Moderator
Staff member
I recognize that the Annex Sections of NEC are not formal portions of the Code. However, by grandfathering, I was generally referring to NEC Annex H 80.9 (B) and (C).

Say a building at a Wastewater Treatment Plant was constructed 30 years ago. This was long before the release of NFPA 820 (which we heavily use for our current designs). When constructed, almost nothing within these old facilities had ANY hazardous classification requirements. Therefore, we have 30 years of opertion without incident. Clearly, this does not pose any "imminent danger" as described in Annex H.

We now add one new control panel to the area and the heated discussions begin as to the necessary limits of the upgrades.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), in my state, most Wastewater Treatment Plants are local government agencies which do not have any official AHJ to satisfy. As the A/E, it basically falls on us to determine the design requirements. Sounds simpler . . . . but I want to do what is "right", not simply what is "good enough".
I understand what you meant by grandfathering, but I also meant it when I said hazardous locations can?t be grandfathered. See FedOSHA ? 1910.302(b)(1) which applies to ??all electrical installations and utilization equipment, regardless of when they were designed or installed.?
 

bobgorno

Senior Member
Location
Colorado
Sounds like you are stuck between a rock and a hazardous place.

Although logic says the WWTP operator must comply with OSHA. They may not be required to. Public employees are not covered by OSHA. It's up to the individual state. See below. Obviously you need to do what is correct for your install per NEC. Whether they go back and upgrade non-compliant installations may end up soley at the discretion of some guy who is more concerend about a budget than he is about safety or logic.


Reprinted from a CSB report: Public employers are not covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 because section 3(5) of the act defines ?employer? as ?a person engaged in a business affecting commerce that has employees, but does not include the United States (not including the United States Postal Service) or any State or political subdivision of a State.? The Occupational Safety and Health Act includes two opportunities for city, county, and state employers to provide OSHA coverage: ?state plans? and ?public employee-only plans.? Section 18 of the Act authorizes states to establish their own occupational safety and health programs, or ?state plans,? and Section 18(c)(6) requires all states that run their own state plans to establish ?an effective and comprehensive occupational safety and health program applicable to all employees of public agencies of the State and its political subdivisions.? Twenty one states have adopted OSHA state plans. OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1956.1 allows states that do not have state plans to adopt ?public employee-only plans? to provide OSHA coverage even where no state plan covering private employers is in effect.
 

rbalex

Moderator
Staff member
If you dig deep enough into the applicable public employee safety laws, you will find they will ultimately refer to OSHA regulations unless they interfere specifically with the organization’s “mission.”

I’m definitely not an attorney, but I’ve personally dug into and found such a reference in every set of applicable Statutes, Codes, Regulations, Rules, Standards, etc., that I investigated for projects I've been involved with that also included public employee safety - including the military.
 

WorkSafe

Senior Member
Location
Moore, OK
Public employers are exempt from OSHA enforcement. Saying this, Federal OSHA cannot walk into a local fire department or police station and conduct a inspection, unless the State has it's own program. Now, if the state has contractor workers in it's facilities, that's a different ballgame.

Federal employees, including the military (non military-unique jobs), are required to comply with OSHA regulations as stated in OSHA 1960. However, OSHA cannot impose a monetary fine on a federal agency, but they can cite you, which is common place.
 
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