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Adequate Working Space is Required

Previously, we noted that the NEC is a safety document [90.1] and:

  • Electricians can make the workplace safer by reporting and/or fixing NEC violations.
  • Electrical contractors can generate additional revenue by looking for code violations when on site and discussing them with the customer.

One particular violation frequently gets wrongly evaluated as being in compliance. That violation is inadequate working space. The NEC [110.26] and OSHA [1926.403(i)] provide some specific numbers, but these are minimums.

In addition to numerically stated minimums, OSHA requires that you provide enough space “to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance” of the equipment. The NEC has a similar requirement [110.32].

Oddly, the distance of 3 ft is widely and wrongly accepted as the proper, or even maximum, clearance around electrical equipment. But neither OSHA nor the NEC requires exactly 3 feet. In fact, both provide numerically stated minimum that exceed three feet (Table 110.34(A) and OSHA 1926.403) for some applications.

When there’s a conflict between the space Maintenance needs and what Production says it can have, the production people are rightly thinking of maximizing revenue per square foot. But they miss the fact that inadequate space actually reduces the revenue their jobs depend on.

The reality is you need enough room to ensure safe and efficient access to electrical gear, especially if it supplies power to critical production equipment. Run the numbers for lost revenue per hour, and you begin to see that working space is an investment rather than a cost.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection