OSHA requires workers to be “qualified,” and the reason is safety. Workers must have the training to do the job safely.

The NEC requires workers to be “qualified,” and the reason is so that they know what to do to achieve a safe installation.

If you are involved in maintenance and stop there, financial loss is almost certainly being incurred. Safety and performance are two different things. Read Sec. 90.1 in the NEC, and apply that thinking to maintenance.

Sometimes, what appears to be a qualified maintenance force isn’t. Consider the case of an industrial services firm that offered a complete array of maintenance services. They had two sales engineers on staff, and their job was to secure large contracts. Brian was one of those two.

Brian got a lead on a large manufacturing plant. Through someone who knows someone, the plant engineer contacted him about providing a small crew to help tide the plant over until it could get certain downtime issues under control.

During the initial phone call, Brian got a feel for what was going on. He asked the manager if the plant had a thermographer and if so, what his qualifications were.

“Oh, yes, we have a Level I Certified thermographer.”

Brian persuaded this prospective client to let Brian bring one of his thermographers to look at the equipment during their initial meeting. Brian’s thermographer was Level II Certified and also had a Master Electrician license.

Can you guess where this story is going? Yes, that’s right. Brian’s thermographer found 23 problems inside one cabinet alone. All problems the client’s thermographer didn’t find.

This circumstance also occurs regularly in other areas of expertise, where a minimally qualified person (for safety) isn’t qualified to be an expert (for finding performance issues).

How can you locate qualification holes in your organization? Build a qualifications matrix (i.e., spreadsheet) that lists advanced qualifications across the top and the names of individuals going down the left side.

One problem that commonly arises in doing this is that the maintenance manager assigned to build the matrix isn’t qualified to know what the advanced qualifications are. That problem may be solved any of a number of ways, such as asking equipment manufacturers, engaging a maintenance consulting firm, or consulting with an electrical services firm.