The effect of the NEC style manual and formatting decisions on electrical safety

Josh111

Senior Member
Location
USA
Is there a process to request revision to the NEC style manual or to request edits in things like formatting? As far as I understand it this cannot be done through the public input/comment stage. Just as the code rules themselves can have a negative or positive impact on safety, the style can also have a negative or positive impact on safety.

It seems there are a number of occasions where things are made ambiguous in an effort to comply with the style manual. One example I have in mind at the moment comes with the 2023 push to require actual arc flash assessments on most larger equipment. Instead of just saying that you should have a label that follows NFPA 70 E labeling practice or at least has cal/cm2 and voltage, they want to mamby pamby around with it by saying shall be applied “in accordance with acceptable industry practice” and then putting a (non-enforceable) informational note stating that their other publication of 70E is an example of an acceptable industry practice. This could be worse for electrical safety because it will mean that instead of at least having the label at the main service disconnect that states the available fault current and clearing time of the circuit breaker, we might revert to having nothing but just a label that says “warning arc flash and shock hazard” due to such an interpretation.

As I understand it they do this because it would be against their style manual to just come out and say what they want to require. I see this as creating unnecessary ambiguity which could have a negative impact on electrical safety. Acceptable industry practice might sound too much to some inspectors in jurisdictions that have very little industrial equipment and no exposure to industrial safety practices, as “commonly accepted practice” — something that they may interpret as that you should label it in accordance with whatever you normally have been doing in your area. I see this as negative for electrical safety and it would seem that if the style manual is not conducive to electrical safety we should be changing the style manual instead of playing a game of making an ambiguous code in an effort to comply with the manual.

It just seems to me that whatever it is that is going to be required, it should be written in clear language and not in some mealymouth mamby pamby style.
 
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don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
The NEC does not really have purview over those issues. Any change would have to come from that Standards Council because they determine the purview of the various NFPA documents.
 

Josh111

Senior Member
Location
USA
Please remember the NEC is an installation standard, arc flash labeling is safety related.

That’s been the argument against this for years, and it’s one that’s not prevailing these days. It didprevail at least in the first draft of 110.16 for 2023. We have working space rules for safety reasons. We have the current version of 110.16 that was added for what were said to be safety reasons. So we have been adding more and more to the code to address electrical worker safety.

My post here actually isn’t to argue whether we should or shouldn’t require arc flash labeling. Rather, I’m saying that if the drafters of the NEC think something is needed for safety, they shouldn’t be putting that into language that, due to the style manual, is made to be ambiguous. That’s not in the interest of safety at all.

I don’t understand this idea that the NFPA can’t reference another standard, but for non-enforceable informational notes. The NESC requires compliance with the hazardous locations requirements in the NEC, for certain scenarios involving batteries in supply stations.
 
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