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Industry Viewpoint

Spreading the Message of Electrical Safety

As we all know, May is National Electrical Safety Month — the one month of the year where everyone rallies around the topic to promote safety. In fact, I bet a good number of you step up and volunteer this month to help spread the message of being safe electrically. For those of you who do contribute to this cause, I applaud your efforts. But as we all know, electrical safety is much too important to think of only one month out of the year.

One group that strives to help drive this electrical safety message home year-round is the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), which proudly sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May, and engages in public education campaigns throughout the year to prevent electrical fires, injuries, and fatalities. The group educates the public on the safe use of extension cords and holiday lighting products. It promotes the safety features of AFCIs and GFCIs. It even offers education on how to avoid buying counterfeit electrical products.

The IEEE Industry Applications Society’s Electrical Safety Committee is another group of individuals dedicated to improving electrical safety in the workplace. The committee’s objective is “to advance the state of the art in methods and technologies that contribute toward prevention of occupational electrical incidents and injuries; and to promote and support electrical safety activities in IAS committees, technical activities, and IAS chapter activities.” In mid March, I had the pleasure of attending the 20th annual IEEE IAS Electrical Safety Workshop (ESW) and witnessed firsthand the dedication, compassion, and commitment of the members of this organization and those in attendance to improve safety in the workplace. I highly recommend this annual event to anyone interested in improving electrical safety in their own company.

As we look ahead to month of June, the safety theme remains front and center. The National Fire Protection Association’ mission is to reduce the burden of fire and other hazards by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards, including NFPA 1 (Fire Code), NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code), NFPA 70 (NEC), and NFPA 70E (Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace). Its annual fire and life safety conference and exposition takes place in Chicago in mid June. A key focus at this event will of course be the 2014 edition of the NEC.

EC&M is also doing its part this time of year to spread the message of electrical safety. We recently served up two webinars within a 10-day period: one on understanding and applying AFCIs/GFCIs; the other on workplace electrical safety. Both events are now available on demand via the EC&M website ( The theme of our May issue is also Health & Safety. Check out our cover story, which focuses on the importance of firestop systems education for engineers and contractors, as well as a number of additional safety-related articles in this issue.

What are you doing to promote electrical safety in the workplace? Do you inspire others and lead by example? Do you serve as a mentor to less experienced coworkers? Do you challenge yourself and improve your knowledge of safety products and services through various forms of education and training? Are you a member of any of the organizations noted above, or do you serve on any of the committees? If not, I hope the work being done by these people and organizations make you pause for a moment and seriously think about ways in which you can support the cause. The bottom line is we all win when safety is a high priority in our daily thought processes and actions on the job site and at home.

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