Not in my town.... You might get away with it elsewhere. Our Inspectors call for work space simular to panels, and that is thier interpritation on it.
But there are "standards" for Commercial and Residential Tele/Data which also call/highly suggest workspace. (TIA 570)
But remember you might have to be the guy who has to enter this panel again....
This is the section of the NEC sited on this in the past: You decide....
110.26 Spaces About Electrical Equipment.
(A) Working Space. Working space for equipment operating at 600 volts, nominal, or less to ground and likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized shall comply with the dimensions of 110.26(A)(1), (2), and (3) or as required or permitted elsewhere in this Code.
(1) Depth of Working Space. The depth of the working space in the direction of live parts shall not be less than that specified in Table 110.26(A)(1) unless the requirements of 110.26(A)(1)(a), (b), or (c) are met. Distances shall be measured from the exposed live parts or from the enclosure or opening if the live parts are enclosed.
(b) Low Voltage. By special permission, smaller working spaces shall be permitted where all uninsulated parts operate at not greater than 30 volts rms, 42 volts peak, or 60 volts dc.
( Some commentary: )The intent of 110.26(A) is to provide enough space for personnel to perform any of the operations listed without jeopardizing worker safety. These operations include examination, adjustment, servicing, and maintenance of equipment. Examples of such equipment include panelboards, switches, circuit breakers, controllers, and controls on heating and air-conditioning equipment. It is important to understand that the word examination, as used in 110.26(A), includes such tasks as checking for the presence of voltage using a portable voltmeter.
Minimum working clearances are not required if the equipment is such that it is not likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized. However, â€śsufficientâ€ť access and working space are still required by the opening paragraph of 110.26.
Ever been jolted while while testing lines by a ringing line? While you were adjusting, servicing, or otherwise examining this type of energized electrical equipment of 0-150 volts.
[This message has been edited by e57 (edited 01-14-2005).]