As usual, never consider the following commentary associated with these photos as a formal interpretation of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Without criticizing anyone or any product, the following scenarios present us with serious safety questions.

All references are based on the 2005 NEC.


Rick Werner, an application and quote engineer with GE Industrial Systems in Houston, found this while strolling outside his Phoenix hotel on a recent business trip. “It is a light pole located about 4 feet from the sidewalk,” says Werner. “To my untrained eye, I see at least two violations.”

As noted in 410.15(B)(1), “A pole shall have a handhole not less than 50 mm × 100 mm (2 in. × 4 in.) with a raintight cover to provide access to the supply terminations within the pole or pole base.” Although there are exceptions noted for poles less than 8 feet in height and poles less than 20 feet in height with hinged bases, neither exception applies in this installation. In addition, 410.15(B)(3) requires the metal pole be equipped with a grounding terminal that is accessible from the handhole. 410.15(B)(5) states, “Metal raceways or other equipment grounding conductors shall be bonded to the metal pole with an equipment grounding conductor recognized by 250.118 and sized in accordance with 250.122.”


Mike DeLaughter, a maintenance manager with Wilton Industries in Woodridge, Ill., snapped this picture at a retail store in Bolingbrook, Ill. “I found these wires coming up out of the concrete and going into a conduit that was going through the wall,” says DeLaughter. “There are three large conductors and one smaller conductor. I can only assume there are three phases and a ground. I looked a little closer and found that a few conductors had some tape wrapped around them, possibly because the wire was exposed. This is the storefront, so the conductors are exposed to pedestrians.”

This installation is a clear violation of 300.5(D), which states, “direct-buried conductors and cables shall be protected from damage in accordance with 300.5(D)(1) through (D)(4). “More specifically, 300.5(D)(4) states, “Where the enclosure or raceway is subject to physical damage, the conductors shall be installed in rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, Schedule 80 rigid nonmetallic conduit, or equivalent.”

Found a Code Violation? E-mail your photos to Joe Tedesco at