By embracing the digitization of fire and life safety codes and standards, electrical professionals can stay up to date wherever they are.

The Benefits of Digitized Codes and Standards for Electrical Contractors

Dec. 16, 2022
Three reasons contractors should have access to information anytime, anywhere, and on any device

Hybrid and/or remote work have become mainstream buzzwords since the onset of the pandemic, spurring accelerated digital transformation across multiple industries. However, even before the pandemic, electrical contractors worked in hybrid and remote settings. This is one reason why the electrical industry has always been ripe with opportunities to leverage digital transformation and drive efficiency and collaboration.

The goal of electrical contractors is to meet customer needs in an effective, safe, and compliant manner. Fire and life safety codes/standards serve as the foundation for meeting that goal, so they must be accessible to all employees. Emerging digital platforms that house codes and standards are helping democratize code content and expertise so that they can be more readily leveraged in the field. Below are three benefits digital codes and standards can provide to electrical contractors.

1. Greater access to information drives efficiency and professional development.

Electrical contractors often rely on word of mouth and physical code books to access electrical codes and standards. For example, an electrician looking for clarification on a specific code requirement might call up the foreman, superintendent, or inspector to get the context they need. They might also flip through the pages of a physical code book. But what happens when the resident code expert is unavailable, the code book is nowhere to be found, or the electrician is simply looking for a quicker, more self-sufficient way to find the information?

Digitized codes and standards grant electrical contractors access to multiple publications and their various editions on mobile devices as small as a smartphone. Within this vast digital library, electricians can easily search by section or keyword across publications, bookmarking information as needed for quick access to the sections they find themselves referencing frequently.

With digital tools, instead of fielding several calls a day from employees with questions, the foreman or superintendent can bookmark relevant sections, add notes, and create collections to be shared with teammates. Putting the source of knowledge in employees’ hands helps cut out the middleman and allows electrical contractors to make more informed decisions when faced with challenges. It also encourages self-reliance and professional growth. Additionally, housing-specific expertise in future-proofed digital platforms helps coordinate generational knowledge more widely for young electricians and can be a valuable tool in training and upskilling employees.

Installers are better when they have the information they need and know how to find it themselves. Making codes and standards more widely accessible not only increases efficiency and promotes professional growth, but it also helps ensure installations are safe and accurate from the outset, thus avoiding expensive and time-consuming rework.

2. Situational navigation and supplemental content add context.

When it comes to codes and standards, the whole story always lives in more than one place. Digital tools not only provide electrical contractors with access to several publications and editions at the click of a button, but they also offer more intuitive avenues to locate relevant information.

Electricians build electrical systems to meet specific customer needs — sometimes that means taking on a project they’ve never done before. Let’s say a contractor is tasked with wiring a generator. He may find specific requirements for generators in NEC Art. 445, but he’ll still need to know some of the general requirements that live within earlier Articles in the Code. Digital tools enable users to search through context and locate relevant information when the subject matter cuts across multiple Articles in the NEC.

In addition to situational navigation, digital tools can help add further context/color to codes and standards with supplemental content. This can include expert commentary, visual/audio aids, or added handbook content. Since digital platforms are not static, they can continuously onboard new, up-to-date content as needed.

3. Change indicators and note transfer in an evolving safety landscape.

The fire and life safety ecosystem is constantly evolving. This makes it critical for teams to have real-time access to the newest updates. Digitization helps new information about codes and standards, such as changes from edition to edition, tentative interim amendments (TIAs), and errata get disseminated quickly and accurately to keep projects compliant. Digital platforms not only update new editions or changes, but they also flag new information with interactive change indicators to ensure nothing goes unnoticed. This helps teams know any requirements that may have changed between editions as they plan for their next installation.

Amid constant updates, it’s also important for electrical contractors to have a future-proofed way to take notes. For example, the state of Massachusetts implements a new Code every three years, so electricians may be hesitant to put notes within a physical codebook, knowing they’ll have to get a new book within the next few years. Within digital platforms, however, notes are retained and transferred from older to newer editions. That means that electricians can fill up the virtual margins with technical knowledge and experience to build a repository history that can remain with them throughout their careers. This allows them to better invest in their code content and gain perspective on how the codes and standards have evolved throughout the years.

The bottom line

The digitization of fire and life safety codes and standards empowers electrical professionals to better invest in their people, democratize knowledge, add context to standards, and stay up to date. By embracing these emerging digital tools, they can unlock a new standard of safety and efficiency.


Erik Hohengasser is the electrical technical lead for NFPA, directing and advancing the development of content and services that support NFPA products and stakeholders. He is a licensed master electrician and has been involved in various aspects of system installation for more than 15 years, including the design and installation of residential, commercial, and photovoltaic electrical systems. In Erik’s time at NFPA, he has contributed to the organization in various technical capacities, centering on technical training reviews, strategic business planning, and redefining stakeholder engagement. His industry experience and understanding of how people interact with and apply codes and standards in their day-to-day activities was instrumental in the development of the NFPA LiNK® application. He can be reached at email.com.

 

About the Author

Erik Hohengasser

Erik Hohengasser is the electrical technical lead for NFPA, directing and advancing the development of content and services that support NFPA products and stakeholders. He is a licensed master electrician and has been involved in various aspects of system installation for more than 15 years, including the design and installation of residential, commercial, and photovoltaic electrical systems. In Erik’s time at NFPA, he has contributed to the organization in various technical capacities, centering on technical training reviews, strategic business planning, and redefining stakeholder engagement. His industry experience and understanding of how people interact with and apply codes and standards in their day-to-day activities was instrumental in the development of the NFPA LiNK® application.

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