3 vital electrical standards to industrial workplace project safety  

Nov. 8, 2018

Understanding and implementing the right electrical standards helps ensure safe, on-time and on-budget projects. 

Electrical infrastructure is a critical component of capital projects, including the installation of processing lines and systems within a manufacturing plant, and its proper design and implementation should be a priority when building a facility. Alignment to rigorous and proven product standards and installation procedures will put these projects on the right path from the start, help avoid costly rework and deliver projects on-time. Spending time on early-stage engineering design results in more on-time and on-budget projects. 

The proper design and installation of electrical grounding and cable cleats help increase productivity, profitability, reliability and worker safety within processing plants and facilities. One key to the success of any design and installation of electrical grounding and cable cleats are product standards. Product standards compliance provides industrial process engineers and procurement with a baseline to read beyond a supplier’s marketing and compare like products from various suppliers. They highlight a product’s ability to get the job done, having been rigorously tested to prove reliability. With the global scale of projects, product standards ensure there is seamless integration of these products when work is performed across borders.   

A variety of factors determine whether a project will be successful. Understanding and implementing the right electrical standards and partnering with the right manufacturers helps to ensure a project will be done in a safe environment and completed on-time.  

While standards are always changing, three are the most critical within electrical grounding and bonding and cable cleats for electrical installations: UL 467, IEEE 837-2014 and IEC 61914-2015. 

UL 467  

UL 467 is a general safety standard used in grounding and bonding. To meet this standard, various tests are conducted, and requirements are provided as a baseline of quality for grounding and bonding equipment. It provides requirements for: 

  1. Tensile strength 
  2. Short time current  
  3. Corrosion resistance 
  4.  Direct-burial rating, or whether a grounding connection can be buried in dirt or concrete 
  5. Markings — such as DB for direct-burial rated, AL for use with aluminum wire only and AL-CU for use with aluminum and copper wire 

All reputable manufacturers of direct-burial compression grounding connectors comply with UL 467. 

IEEE 837-2014  

A much more stringent requirement than UL467, IEEE 837 has had only two revisions since 1989 with the latest being IEEE 837-2014. Unlike UL, it is not subject to a third-party testing agency, but is, instead, self-proclaiming by the manufacturer, who should provide test data to show that they comply. The key elements of IEEE 837-2014 include: 

  1. The UL 467 pull-out test rating is acceptable, which is about half as stringent as the 2002 edition of IEEE 837.  
  2. Short time current test with a stricter requirement than UL that is used to emulate a utility-scale fault. This short-time current rating is about twice as stringent as the IEEE 837-2002 edition.  
  3. Sequence testing is used to emulate harsh and heavy environmental conditions. This includes: 
  4. A current temperature cycling test, which emulates temperature changes due to fluctuating currents.  
  5. A freeze-thaw test to emulate burial too close to ground in a cold environment. The freeze-thaw test is an attempt to work water into the joint between the connector and the conductor, and, if water gets into this area when the system is frozen, the water will expand as it turns into ice, which results in an opening up of the joint between the conductor and the connector. This potentially causes increase in electrical resistance.  
  6. Splitting up the samples in to two groups and subjecting them to another short time test after either a salt spray or acid bath corrosion test has been applied.  

IEEE 837-2014 testing is much more stringent than UL 467 and is required in the harsh and heavy environments often seen in industrial applications like offshore oil rigs, mining and coastal environments. If a direct-burial grounding connection is IEEE 837-2014 compliant, it meets the highest standard for direct-burial grounding applications. Some companies test their direct-burial grounding connectors to this standard and can provide the test results to prove it. 

IEC 61914-2015 

IEC 61914-2015, an update to the 2009 edition, defines testing standards for cable cleats, which provide resistance to electromechanical forces resulting from a short circuit event. These testing standards include: 

  1. Temperature rating 
  2. Resistance to flame propagation  
  3. Lateral and axial load testing  
  4. Impact resistance  
  5. Resistance to electromechanical forces by withstanding two short circuit events at the manufacturer’s declared values of peak short-circuit current. Level 1 — passes a first short circuit event. Level 2 — passes a second short circuit event following the first, after inspecting that the cleat passed the first short circuit. Passing this second short circuit demonstrates that a cable cleat can remain in place and continue to be used after an initial short-circuit event occurs. 
  6. Corrosion resistance 

Understanding and implementing the right electrical standards and partnering with the right manufacturers helps ensure the success of the design and build out of processing plants and manufacturing facilities. Carrying out the design and installation of a project with a focus on electrical product standards sets the project up for the best possible outcome by preventing cost overruns, missed deadlines and disappointed investors. It means a safe work environment is provided for industrial process engineers, installers and contractors, and ensures long-term reliability, productivity and profitability. 

Greg Bielowicz is the senior business development manager for Industrial Construction and EPC for Panduit. In this role, he is responsible for market growth strategies for the electrical business unit, focusing on distributors and end customers in industrial construction and EPC. Bielowicz has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an Master of Business Administration from DePaul University.  

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