The accident report shows "Code violation" as the cause again. Your boss needs suggestions. Here are some that will work.
A common complaint about the NEC is "It's unnecessarily complicated." Those who extensively use it agree it's complicated, but often draw the line at the "unnecessary" part. Perhaps, in the case of the NEC, unfamiliarity breeds contempt. These 10 tips should help your organization overcome unfamiliarity with the NEC and enable you to follow its lifesaving requirements.
1. Use trade journals. EC&M Magazine, for example, brings you excellent Code coverage. The NFPA Journal is another source. You can also browse through various industry-specific publications (i.e., the food industry, plastics industry, etc.). Look at the photos and illustrations to see if you find Code violations.
2. Get a Master Electrician's license. This license won't make you a Code guru, but it will bring you a solid working knowledge of the Code. If you are unfamiliar with the Code, having a goal like obtaining the ME license can be just the motivation you need. Several companies provide courses to help you prepare for the exam. You can find some of them in the ads in this very magazine.
3. Use Code calendars and other memory aids. At least one of our advertisers puts out a Code calendar. Every day, you get a little bit of Code knowledge. It may not seem like much, but then $10 doesn't seem like so much today, either. However, if someone put a $10 bill in a container every day and then gave you that container at the end of a year, you'd have $3,650. The same principle applies to saving Code knowledge; a little each day adds up.
4. Have a weekly Code meeting. You can pass quite a bit of Code information along, just by consistently having someone read a Code section to your group once a week. This effort is good for reinforcing previous knowledge, but weak for teaching something new. To go a step further, give one electrician 5 min of glory each week to explain some part of the Code. That person will do the most learning, but the others will benefit, too. This works even better if you tie all Code presentations to a common theme. For example, you could make October the month for grounding.
5. Put Code paragraphs in pay envelopes. The more people see the Code in small chunks, the more they will know those chunks and the Code as a whole. You can best reinforce this with some theme or pattern to the way you present these. For example, you may wish to cover Art. 100 with a different word defined each pay period. A twist on this is to put a "fill in the blank" with some kind of reward for the winner of a drawing held for those with the correct answers. Be creative with the rewards. You could give the winning employee a special hard hat sticker, but sometimes such things come across in a way not intended. For a more positive impact, you could give the employee an extra hour's pay or a gift certificate to your electrical supplier (good toward a meter, toolbelt, etc.). Since you have the contest every payday, give people a chance to save these toward a larger purchase. If you do go with a reward system, see your tax advisor before deciding what to do.
6. Use Code reminders as a screen saver or wallpaper text. Most shops have computers, and field people often carry laptops. Many people like "screen savers." Though these don't do a thing to save the screen (as they would have in the days of monochrome monitors), many users run them. Why not capitalize on this? Your tech support person can load in a custom screen saver. Or, you can do something similar to the pay envelope idea. Those who run screen savers with the current Code reminder get their names put in a drawing. This means someone will have to go around and check all the computers to see who is eligible. Since screen saver text needs to be short, something like "Art. 250 = Grounding" would be appropriate. Unless everyone has a computer, you'd have to keep any rewards very low key and related to his/her crews. You might, for example, give the winning project manager a small stack of coupons that he/she would use to reward his/her crews for jobs completed with above average quality or delivery time.
7. Teach the Code. Encourage your electricians to study a Code section and give a short presentation to a high school shop class. Keep this useful and restrict it to the "simpler" sections. Without an understanding of Arts. 100 and 110, the rest of the Code is confusing. However, 100/110 are straightforward. As such,they are excellent for electricians to study and teach from. A shop teacher would be delighted for a working electrician to address the class for 15 min.
8. Visit the EC&M website. Code information is on the Internet. EC&M, for example, posts "Code Watch" at www.ecmweb.com. Those who read this know what changes are coming. That's not ecmweb's only Code coverage; not by a long shot. In addition to "Code Tips," you can use the article search function to look for articles as far back as 1990. You can locate Code Quizzes related to a particular topic. You can look up Code Basics. You can find out how the Code Forum experts view a particular topic. We also have advertisers whose websites may be helpful.
9. Hold Code inspections. If yours is a maintenance organization, assign two people to tour the facility and inspect for Code violations. If you are a contractor who provides a maintenance service, this could bring extra business. If you are the manager of the maintenance department, this could save your job; and possibly someone's life.
10. Publish Code problems. When you encounter a Code violation in your facility, what do you do about it? Do you quietly fix it, as though it never existed? A better choice may be to report these violations. Let's say you find 43 violations in one day. Categorize these in severity as moderate, serious, and critical. You fix the critical ones first. Notice the rating system doesn't have a "low priority" category. If you have a Code violation, you have a situation that is defeating the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity. That's never a low priority. Prioritizing is a tool for fixing the worst problems first. It in no way hints that some Code violations are unimportant.
Put out a monthly or weekly newsletter to all departments, perhaps in the form of a spreadsheet. Simply list the condition, Code section violated, severity, and who resolved the problem. You can see an example of such a report in the Table (on page 48D). You can develop a table for your data, and/or produce a high-visual-impact graph like that in the Figure (original article). Such visual aids give Code violations a high, but positive, visibility and serve as strong motivators for electricians to learn the Code. The "who" part is normally something the maintenance supervisor assigns when assigning the work order. Make sure you spread this work out so everyone gets some recognition and encouragement to take the Code to heart.