One reason Code violations are rampant in manufacturing facilities (not in all; some make Code compliance a priority) is the misconception, “We aren’t under the Code.” If you’ve heard this as either an employee or a contractor, you can set the record straight by turning to Sec. 90.2(A). There, you’ll find a list of what’s covered.
The plant’s owners can’t dismiss this without risking one or more of the following:
- Shutdown performed by the supplying utility (most plants are served by a utility rather than by their own onsite power sources).
- Shutdown ordered by the AHJ (e.g., local Fire Marshall).
- Cancellation or suspension of the plant’s insurance policy.
And if these enforcement actions don’t come soon enough, the plant management is risking such things as:
- Serious injury to, or death of, workers.
- Shutdown because of fire, explosion, or equipment failure that Code compliance would have prevented.
- Permanent loss of the plant, because of catastrophic events stemming from Code violations.
It is in the plant’s best interests to (at a minimum) comply with the NEC. But are all facilities required to do so? In one sense, yes; the laws of physics are what they are. You’ll find a list of installations that are not covered by the NEC per se in 90.2(B).
What this exclusion list means is some other standard or set of standards provide(s) the minimum safety requirements for those installations. Those installations not covered by the NEC can’t magically run undersized conductors without problems, for example.
If your facility isn’t required to comply with the NEC, then it is required to comply with something else. And that something else is developed around an understanding of what is necessary to make that type of installation safe.