There were several changes made to this section of the Code, addressing accessibility and location issues.

A new requirement addresses the accessibility of the test and reset functions of GFCI devices.

210.8 GFCI Protection. Ground-fault circuit interruption for personnel must be provided as required in 210.8(A) through (C). The Ground-fault circuit-interrupter device must be installed at a readily accessible location.

Analysis: The Code previously didn’t address the accessibility of the test and reset functions of GFCI devices. This presents two problems: First, building owners are subjected to the inconvenience of using ladders (or less safe devices) to reach the reset button should a GFCI device trip. Secondly, the listing standards of GFCIs require that they be tested on a monthly basis. While it’s true that many people don’t test their GFCI devices, some who would perform such tests won’t go through the extra effort of finding a ladder to access these devices if they aren’t readily accessible.

This change will require GFCIs in obvious locations, such as bathrooms and dwelling unit garages, to have their test and reset buttons readily accessible, but it also applies to less obvious locations, such as receptacles on rooftops and in soffits for holiday lighting.

A revision to this next requirement increases the locations of GFCI-protected outlets in patient care areas of health care facilities.

210.8(B)(5) Sinks. All 15A and 20A, 125V receptacles installed within 6 ft of the outside edge of a sink must be GFCI-protected.

Ex. 1: In industrial laboratories, receptacles used to supply equipment where removal of power would introduce a greater hazard aren’t required to be GFCI-protected.

Ex. 2: Receptacles located in patient bed locations of general care or critical care areas of health care facilities aren’t required to be GFCI-protected.

Analysis: A change to the 2008 NEC required GFCI protection near all sinks in nondwelling occupancies. One of the concerns raised by this change was the need for life support equipment to be supplied by an outlet that isn’t GFCI-protected. Due to this, an exception was written that exempted all receptacles in patient care areas (other than bathrooms). Although this certainly took care of the life support issue, it also removed GFCI protection from all other equipment that isn’t life safety oriented. For example, the many sinks found in a dental office were exempt, despite the fact that the patient is often very vulnerable to electric shock due to the invasive nature of many dental procedures. This change more accurately expresses the concerns of the medical community, while adding protection to equipment that isn’t essential to life support.

GFCI protection was added to indoor wet locations of nondwelling occupancies.

210.8(B)(6) Indoor wet locations. All 15A and 20A, 125V receptacles installed indoors in wet locations must be GFCI-protected.

Analysis: Many areas, such as car washes, food processing areas, and similar locations, share the same hazards as outdoor locations, yet GFCI protection has never been required in these locations. This change will now require that these areas receive the same protection against electric shock as required for outdoor locations. It’s worth noting that this change was accepted without any documented incidents cited.

A new requirement for GFCI protection of 15A and 20A, 125V receptacles near showering facilities was added.

210.8(B)(7) Locker Rooms. All 15A and 20A, 125V receptacles installed in locker rooms with associated showering facilities must be GFCI-protected.

Analysis: Requirements for GFCI protection of receptacles in bathrooms have been in place for a very long time. In Art. 100, a bathroom is very clearly defined — and not all locker rooms fall under that definition. The hazards that exist in a bathroom are the same as those encountered in a locker room — and perhaps even more so. A typical locker room that has associated showering facilities will probably contain tiled floors that are wet, people with bare feet, and people using electrical appliances (razors, hair dryers, curling irons, etc.). Therefore, GFCI protection was added for all 15A and 20A, 125V receptacles located in these facilities.

A new requirement adds GFCI protection for receptacles located in nondwelling unit garages that don’t fall under the scope of Article 511.

210.8(B)(8) Garages. All 15A and 20A, 125V receptacles installed in garages, service bays, and similar areas where electrical diagnostic equipment, electrical hand tools, or portable lighting equipment are to be used must be GFCI-protected. (click here to see Fig. 2)

Analysis: This change expands GFCI protection requirements to all commercial garages. Article 511 applies only to those garages “in which volatile flammable liquids or flammable gases are used for fuel or power.” A facility that repairs only diesel-powered vehicles doesn’t fall under the requirements of Article 511, because diesel fuel is a combustible liquid, not a flammable liquid. Although the same electric shock hazards exist regardless of the fuel type employed, areas that use only diesel fuel didn’t require GFCI protection in previous editions of the Code.