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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 507
Went out on a service call today.
Job description was to install an auto-restart on a center pivot irrigation well. It was a brand new pivot plumbed into a old 40HP electric well.

What I found was that the pivot panel had not been wired to the incoming three phase power. The pivot power is typically tapped off the well panel.

There was no real well panel, the well was being operated with a nema 1 starter that was powered by a nema 1 disconnect. There were open conductors (no raceways) between the disco and the starter and going to the nema 1 start/stop. Not only were there no raceways, but the wires were run out of the enclosure KO's with no bushing or fittings. This is all 480v/3 phase power. A good recipe to get someone killed.

I called my boss and told him about the situation and that we would have to install a proper well panel to make it safe. He called the customer and could not sell him on the well panel......You know the story, "It's been working fine like this for 20 years, there's nothing wrong with it".

Bottom line, the boss came back and told me that we will power it up "as is". I suggested that he tell the customer to find another contractor but that didn't go very far.

If your boss ordered you to connect an installation like this...would you do it??

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
the fault of a 3 ph 480 40 hp motor would probably be like a stick of dynamite!

I would document this if i were you, state the hazards you have found, and that you were told to hook this up despite your findings.

If this is a publicly accessable area, and you really can't sleep with it,you might consider slipping this document to the AHJ anonmously.

both parties can claim ignorance and pin a disaster on you here, don't let them put you in this position!

[This message has been edited by sparky (edited 04-24-2001).]

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 507
Thanks Sparky,

Fortunately I didn't have to make that call today. I two other wells to do today so I didn't get back to this one.

I really like this job and usually the boss has pretty good judgement. If push comes to shove I think that I'll just have to refuse to do it. I was just interested in some other opinions.

I say good for you if you can turn down that work order. It's not the military even. I sure hope your boss respects you for your integrity. Don't emphasize your not wanting the personal liability. Emphasize that you really care that no one be hurt and further that if someone were hurt it could look bad for the company too.

Does any authority have jurisdiction around there?

[This message has been edited by Dspark (edited 04-24-2001).]

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 53
If your boss quoted the customer a price on this job, I'm not sure what I would do. I would probably have to tell him that someone else needs to do it. If the job is being done on a T&M basis, I would make the existing installation as safe as possible without "running the tab up to high." Then, I'm sure that there is a "description of work" section on your work order form, I would describle the problem, and have the customer sign it. If he refuses to sign it, I would have your shop put the same description on the invoice when they bill the customer on the next billing cycle. Good luck with this's a shame your are in this position. If I went to the doctor, and he told me that I had a condition that would possibly kill me, I would hope that I would be smart enough to listen to what he said, and correct the problem. We are the "doctors of electrical work". If the patient (customer) doesn't listen to us, how can we "cure" the "disease"? The above looks like a "2 asprin cure" for open heart surgery.

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 507
I have not been asked to go back out on this job......and as far as I know, no one else from our company has either.

I think that the boss just put it on the back burner, hoping that the customer will get tired of waiting and call someone else. Either that or he did it himself....not likely though.


Joined: May 2001
Posts: 16
I'm trying to get clear of the situation you're describing. All I know is 480v has no mercy. I never was shocked from it, but I've heard a lot of Bad stories when it comes to that voltage. A lock out device is extremly important on the in coming feed when you kill it to make temp. repairs on that mess you were talking about. Hopefully the owner will listen to your boss and make a wise investment to make the right repairs. Please remember that only ourselves are responsible for our own safety. In a lot of situations if you can't do it safe, don't do it at all! Steve T.

Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 308
1st off, if you want to claim your post is long, you need to see some of Scott35's posts in the theory section(not to mention hard to follow.)

As far as the work goes, I picked up one of my best electricians from another contractor who didn't like the guy because he caused trouble. The trouble he caused was not doing improper work.
Can you afford to be out of work? Will your family starve because you are finding a new job? Can you afford to hire an attorney to sue your boss if he fires you? Will that get you anywhere? It is tough to be a martyr when we have families to feed.
Try this--while on the phone with the boss, light an m-80, tell him how unsafe the situation is and then when the M-80 goes off (please stay clear of the explosive) don't make anymore noise but leave the phone on. That'll maybe scare the s**t out of him enough to get him thinking straight. Or he'll fire you.

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 123
doc Offline
wELL GOLF for what it is worth I am now working on my fourth job in a littleover a years time am starving to death and bills are piling up but a persons pride and self esteem can only sink so far as the old saying goes"TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE" seems a lot of companies and people are getting away from safety and neatness they just want it runnning,tried going along with the new way of doing thing s and finally the wife spoke up and told me i needed to stand up and speak my mind well i did and it has cost but by golly i can sleep at night with a clear clean mind.
ITS tough being in that position but evry job i leave i get one paying a little more money.
Your probably still fairly young so dont start giving in now or u will always regret it

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
I view disasters daily, many are DYI time bombs, so i usually have to end up telling customers what they don't want to hear.

That sure can be one hard call, when you know your talking yourself right out of a job, and you have mouths to feed.

People call our trade because they would like their wiring safe, yet it I am constantly taken back by what some individuals consider safe.

As i (we) are a competitive trade, customers will use every angle to work a deal, this is human nature, no sweat!

But when they try to work a $$$$ against safety factors i know i'm out of a job!

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