IEEE Releases New National Electrical Safety Code

NESC 2012 now available

5 August 2011

The number of firefighter deaths in the United States last year was the lowest since at least 1977, according to the annual fatality report released in June by the National Fire Protection Association. (In fact, 2010 saw the lowest annual toll since the NFPA began tracking fatalities in 1977.) The National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), published by the IEEE Standards Association, plays a vital role in preventing not only deaths and injuries to firefighters but also to just about everyone else. Utilities, contractors, manufacturers, telephone companies, cable TV providers, railways, and other organizations look to the NESC for practical guidelines. The latest version of the code, NESC 2012, was released on 1 August.

Revised every five years and published exclusively by IEEE, the code is used throughout the United States and in more than 100 other countries. Over the years, the NESC has emerged as a foundation in the culture of safety that surrounds the business of installing, operating, and maintaining underground and overhead electric supply and communication lines, as well as conductors and equipment in electric supply stations.

The 2012 edition includes extensive updates and revisions to several rules that affect electric utilities. For example, the new code:

  • Offers rules that outline methods for achieving effective ground connections.
  • Clarifies several requirements listed in the underground rules section.
  • Adds options to the electrical supply station rules for how to protect energized parts from interference.
  • Deletes the older calculation method from the overhead loading and strength rules. The new rules also revise wind-load requirements to make it easier to determine the load on portions of structures at specific heights above grade.
  • Adds options to the work rules for determining the arc ratings for apparel worn while working on energized lines. An arc flash is a breakdown of air resistance that occurs when the voltage in an electrical system is high enough and a path exists to ground or to a lower voltage. An arc flash of 1000 amperes or more can cause fire, substantial damage, and injury.
  • Includes examples in its appendixes for calculating extreme wind loads on a variety of structures.

In addition, the scope, application, and definition rules were substantially revised to state more clearly when to use either the NESC or the National Fire Protection Association’s National Electrical Code. The NEC is a standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment.

The price to IEEE members for the NESC is US $135; nonmembers pay $165. Order your copy from the IEEE Standards Store.

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