Actually, the Code does apply. It just so happens that the Code is the NESC and most people are not aware of it, including most electric utility employees. It is used in the engineering area to write the electric utility's standards. The rest of the company will follow the standards but have no idea that they are, in fact, following the intent of the NESC.
The NESC is a performance document; the NEC is a prescriptive document. The difference is that the end result is given in the NESC and how you get there is up to you (that is why we have engineers and standards). The NEC just gives you the rules, follow the rules and you are in compliance.
In this case, the electric utility is in violation of NESC rule 360A which refers you to Rule 239D. To give you an idea of the language, Rule 239D2 states, "Where guarding is required, conductors and cables shall be protected by covering or conduit that gives suitable mechanical protection." Schedule 40 U-Guard will not suitably protect this riser but schedule 80 U-Guard would do nicely. Notice the rule says "where guarding is required", if it is in a substation or similar guarded area, the protection may be reduced or eliminated.
I know this will not everyone from thinking we can do whatever we want but we do have a set of rules we are required to follow.