Many years ago, when I worked for an electric utility, I found myself in the position of tracking changes to the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) and OSHA 1910 standards. As a support engineer, it was my job to review these changes, present them to our construction and maintenance personnel, and then update our work procedures to ensure compliance with the new rules. This process required me to attend many meetings, take detailed notes, rewrite and draft new work procedures, and verbally communicate these changes to our field personnel. As you can imagine, these changes were most often met with some serious resistance. And with resistance comes stress. Needless to say, this stress made my job very challenging.

Many of us don't accept change as well as we should — myself included. We get comfortable with our surroundings and the rules that govern our work practices. Then, just when we have all the requirements committed to memory, someone has to implement a bunch of changes, forcing us to re-examine our daily routines and work practices. This makes us work harder and invest additional time in training. Viewing some or many of these changes as unnecessary, many of us immediately think of ways to circumvent the new rules.

When it comes to national codes and standards, you pretty much have no choice but to adapt to the new rules. So you might as well make it easy on yourself and start learning about the new rules in the 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC) right now with this issue of EC&M, starting on page 34. You know you'll have to abide by these new requirements in the near future anyway, right?

Once again, we asked our long-time Code expert Mike Holt to provide us with his Top 25 Code changes for this revision cycle. This list highlights the changes that will affect the majority of readers. In other words, these are the big-ticket items that will come up on many, if not most, of the projects you'll find yourself working on. Changes to the definitions and general requirements for grounding and bonding — and new requirements for AFCIs, GFCIs, and tamper-resistant receptacles — highlight the list. This issue also includes an in-depth feature on the new Article 708, Critical Operations Power Systems (COPS).

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. As the magazine has done for more than 100 years, we'll regularly discuss new and old requirements of the NEC in each and every issue. We'll also continue to supplement our NEC coverage in print through our electronic e-newsletter (CodeWatch) and special Code conferences. Our goal is to do everything we can to minimize the headaches and stress that accompany the change associated with adopting these new Code requirements. The decision to embrace these changes early on or be dragged along kicking and screaming is up to you.