Grandfather Clause for working space clearances.

GOZ

Member
Location
Maryland
My question is: Our existing MCC with 480 volt buckets are currently 36” away from fixed hose connections. The NEC requires the clearance to be 42” from grounded surfaces. Since these were installed decades ago ( about 1972), are they grandfathered in and acceptable at 36” or do they need to be relocated to 42”. The hoses and spill pans are removable and are removed from the area when work is needed to be performed on the MCC.
 

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mgookin

Senior Member
Location
Fort Myers, FL
To answer your question it's going to require someone looking up old codes to find out what readily accessible workspace requirements and egress requirements existed back then. If it was legal then, it's grandfathered.

But I say that even if it needed 1" of "readily accessible workspace" and any sort of egress requirement, you don't have that. To have to shut down and disassemble equipment to get to the MCC does not render it "readily accessible."
 

USMC1302

Senior Member
Location
NW Indiana
At first look, I'd have guessed the electrical gear was there first, and somebody added the piping later? I'd have a hard time accepting what you have there.
 

qcroanoke

Sometimes I don't know if I'm the boxer or the bag
Location
Roanoke, VA.
Occupation
Engineering
At first look, I'd have guessed the electrical gear was there first, and somebody added the piping later? I'd have a hard time accepting what you have there.
Me too. Trying to get to that MCC with all that hosing in the way......
Fire Marshal might get a bad case of heart burn too.
 

JFletcher

Senior Member
Location
Williamsburg, VA
One of the waste water plants I used to work at was built in 72, upgraded early 80s. The handrails on the aeration tanks were built at 36" height. Code now is 42". They got a variance from OSHA to keep at 36", with signs everywhere that read "warning:low handrails ahead!" or something similar.

I relate that story to you because I think you're getting a bunch of signage rather than the pipe moved.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Forget working clearances for a moment, what is the media in the piping?

Hard to believe there isn't spills and leaks at times as well as washing down when that happens. That gear doesn't look like it would be designed to take that.
 

GOZ

Member
Location
Maryland
Forget working clearances for a moment, what is the media in the piping?

Hard to believe there isn't spills and leaks at times as well as washing down when that happens. That gear doesn't look like it would be designed to take that.
Oil and blending additives are in the piping. I have been here 5 years and there has been a couple incidents of "Wash down". You are correct in the design not rated for the environment. Oil mist is a problem that I have raised concern about several times yet $2mil is a hard pill for corporate to swallow for the upgrade needed. Needless to say they are dragging their heels on it and looking for cheaper avenues.
 

mgookin

Senior Member
Location
Fort Myers, FL
Oil and blending additives are in the piping. I have been here 5 years and there has been a couple incidents of "Wash down". You are correct in the design not rated for the environment. Oil mist is a problem that I have raised concern about several times yet $2mil is a hard pill for corporate to swallow for the upgrade needed. Needless to say they are dragging their heels on it and looking for cheaper avenues.
I can respect that the board wants concrete information so they can make an informed decision. That's their job.

I suggest looking to that 1975 code edition and seeing what it says. I know there are people on here who have it. Maybe if you start another thread titled "1975 NEC Working Space Requirements" and then in the body of the thread ask "Does anyone know what requirements existed for clear working space and egress from MCC in the 1975 NEC?" If it turns out a violation exists, you can provide that concrete information to your higher ups. An adverse event due to not making the correction could well cost in excess of $2MM and you would still have the problem.

Let's think outside the box though. You say $2MM and I'm sure that's just a rough budgetary estimate subject to more refined estimating and bidding. But you likely have one solution in mind. Options include moving the MCC or moving the pump infrastructure. That room has 4 walls, a floor and a ceiling. That gives a choice of 6 directions to go. Either making the room bigger or moving equipment to another room are options. There is certainly considerable cost involved but just make sure you consider all possibilities including the not so obvious.

Good luck!
 

USMC1302

Senior Member
Location
NW Indiana
Still looks like the electrical gear was there first. That catwalk would appear to be proper if the piping wasn't there, so what is more costly? Working clearances seem trivial in the big picture.
 

GOZ

Member
Location
Maryland
I can respect that the board wants concrete information so they can make an informed decision. That's their job.

I suggest looking to that 1975 code edition and seeing what it says. I know there are people on here who have it. Maybe if you start another thread titled "1975 NEC Working Space Requirements" and then in the body of the thread ask "Does anyone know what requirements existed for clear working space and egress from MCC in the 1975 NEC?" If it turns out a violation exists, you can provide that concrete information to your higher ups. An adverse event due to not making the correction could well cost in excess of $2MM and you would still have the problem.

Let's think outside the box though. You say $2MM and I'm sure that's just a rough budgetary estimate subject to more refined estimating and bidding. But you likely have one solution in mind. Options include moving the MCC or moving the pump infrastructure. That room has 4 walls, a floor and a ceiling. That gives a choice of 6 directions to go. Either making the room bigger or moving equipment to another room are options. There is certainly considerable cost involved but just make sure you consider all possibilities including the not so obvious.

Good luck!
I actually ended up contacting NFPA. I was able to purchase a downloadable copy of the code book for $30. To settle anyone's curiosity. The code for working space clearances then is the same as our current edition. Condition 2 applies in my case and was a violation that must have gotten overlooked. Some of the employees currently working here today all vouch for the piping always being in its location. I am happy to have solid information to back up one of my concerns. Thank you all for helping me. Always impressed by the knowledge and generosity of the members on this site. :thumbsup:
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Oil and blending additives are in the piping. I have been here 5 years and there has been a couple incidents of "Wash down". You are correct in the design not rated for the environment. Oil mist is a problem that I have raised concern about several times yet $2mil is a hard pill for corporate to swallow for the upgrade needed. Needless to say they are dragging their heels on it and looking for cheaper avenues.
Did anyone tell them that if a worker is ever killed and that reduced workspace is a contributing factor they may pay that much in fines and lawsuits, plus spend the 2 million anyway when forced to change things
 

Fulthrotl

~~Please excuse the mess. Sig under construction~~
I actually ended up contacting NFPA. I was able to purchase a downloadable copy of the code book for $30. To settle anyone's curiosity. The code for working space clearances then is the same as our current edition. Condition 2 applies in my case and was a violation that must have gotten overlooked. Some of the employees currently working here today all vouch for the piping always being in its location. I am happy to have solid information to back up one of my concerns. Thank you all for helping me. Always impressed by the knowledge and generosity of the members on this site. :thumbsup:
may have been, but when the inspector was there, betcha a cheeseburger that
those hoses and that spill trough were nowhere to be seen.

it'd be one thing if it was an infrequently used situation, like a drain for an
annual purge of a system or something, but those look pretty permanent.

i've seen fittings that were 180 degree attachments in food prep, that
could be used to keep the hoses directed away from the MCC.

depending on the working pressure, you might also consider some
fabricated SS process pipe made to fit, so there was a tight back
to back 90 connecting the ports. that would work if you don't have
to reconfigure them....
 
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