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#150884 - 12/24/05 12:12 PM Qualified Electrician?  
XtheEdgeX  Offline
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 116
First, let me explain the situation. The place I work at, has 5 different institutions, and our maint. dept. is split up between the 5. Each area has an electrician, a plumber, hvac, etc. One of the electricians is our union president, and being that he is the president over a 600+ member union local, he is very rarely in his area to keep up his work load. For a long time now, the supervisor over that area, continues to task other tradesman to perform work that is not within the scope of their training, particularly the electrical work. Most of the electrical work is considered commercial, but we do have 5 powerhouses, in his area, with voltages up to 12,470vac. Examples of the other work being performed are, garage mechanic pouring concrete, welder installing drywall, and several trades performing electrical work. This has gotten out of hand now, because it has spread to all 5 areas. One of the guys has even said that he does not feel comfortable working with electricity, but the boss insists. Maybe I'm biased, but I have always felt that our trade was a specialized trade, and you shouldn't let just anyone do it without proper training and experience. I've read OSHA regulations top to bottom, but can't find anything written clearly enough to enforce this. It basically says that a qualified person is someone who has had classroom or on the job training, and that they must be familiar with the equipment they are working on and voltages present. With a vague description as that, our bosses could justify this by saying, for example, the hvac guy is familiar with electricity, and can perform my job. Is there anything we can do to stop this before someone gets hurt? Sorry this is such a long post.

Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools

#150885 - 12/24/05 12:39 PM Re: Qualified Electrician?  
iwire  Offline
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
North Attleboro, MA USA
Does your state have licensing requirements?

Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician

#150886 - 12/24/05 01:23 PM Re: Qualified Electrician?  
XtheEdgeX  Offline
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 116
I work at a federal facility, and no license is required.

#150887 - 12/25/05 11:44 AM Re: Qualified Electrician?  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
As I see it, there are at least three alternatives open to you.

Virtually all federal institutions are covered by OSHA. OSHA has adopted the NEC, and also has it's own rules regarding trainind and wualifications of help. While "qualified" is largely in the view of the employer, the employer is also expected to document any training provided.

You did mention a "shop steward." This guy's job is to address such issues, without it being necessary for you to make youself a target by opppenly questioning a policy. Since the steward is also an electrician, he should have some interest in this issue as well. If his steward duties interfere with his ability to do his job- well, there is already extensive labor law on this point, and he has remedies available to him.
Ultimately, you may file a grievance, and force the issue to be addressed. You also may approach management higher up the ladder.

You may also "vote with your feet," and seek employment elsewhere. Lose benefits, lose seniority, lose pay....look for sympathy elsewhere; that's what everyone else is face with on a regular basis. You, quite simply, have to "put up or shut up" in life sometimes.

I also very strongly reccomend that you be absolutely certain that your concerns are reasonable. There is a world of difference between changing a light bulb and installing a generator- yet both might be described as "electric work."

#150888 - 12/27/05 09:29 AM Re: Qualified Electrician?  
Zog  Offline
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 120
Charlotte, NC
According to the NFPA 70E, a ¡§Qualified Person" is one who is trained and knowledgeable of the construction and operation of the equipment or the specific work method, and be trained to recognize the hazards present.

Such persons shall also be familiar with the use of the precautionary techniques, personal protective equipment, insulating and shielding materials, and insulated tools and test equipment. A person can be considered qualified with respect to certain tasks but still be unqualified for others.

In addition, to be permitted to work within the limited approach of exposed energized conductors and circuit parts the person shall be trained in all of the following:
Qualified employees shall be trained and competent in:
„X The skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electric equipment
„X The skills and techniques necessary to determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts
„X The minimum approach distances specified in this section corresponding to the voltages to which the qualified employee will be exposed, and,
„X The decision making process necessary to determine the degree and extent of the hazard and the personal protective equipment and job planning necessary to perform the task safely

MV/HV Testing Specialist, "BKRMAN"

#150889 - 12/27/05 09:49 AM Re: Qualified Electrician?  
Dnkldorf  Offline
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,064
nowhere usa
I think your problem is thinking you are a specialized trade.

You have to learn how to multitask.
Esp in your union enviroment....

We as electricians have to do more than just electrical work sometimes.

We get to pour concrete, fix drywall, frame up missing supports,....ect.

I worked in a steel mill once, union controlled. The company was combining the electrical depts, mechanical depts and such so that everyone could do everyones job. This is more effiecent for everyone. If a needed a bracket for something, I went and cut the angle iron, welded it together, drove a forklift around. bascially could do anything. even operate the machines if need be.

The Union put up such a fight over this multitasking, I believe they went on strike.
(I don't remmmber the details, I left them after 6 months of 21 turns).
Anyhow, the plant closed down and moved to Ohio , I think.

So in short, the workers bet against the multitasked work force, and lost.

Just something to think about.......


#150890 - 12/28/05 03:43 PM Re: Qualified Electrician?  
XtheEdgeX  Offline
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 116
Yes, we fall under OSHA regulations, and getting them involved may be the answer. The other electrician is our union president, and he kinda likes the idea of others taking care of his workload. We have written job descriptions on file for each trade, and at one time he was going to file a grievance over this same issue, but I guess he changed his mind. I could do it myself, though. And yes, I've been doing this long enough to know what is considered electrical work. I work for the federal prison system, and each shop works a crew of inmates to help perform the work. We are having a problem with shop foremen being made to take a crew and install conduit, pull wire, install devices and equipment, etc. Our electricians take care of work and equipment that ranges from 120vac to 12,470vac. I think having an inexperienced foreman doing electrical work with inexperienced help just multiplies the possibility of someone getting hurt. And these guys don't know about sizing wire, conduit, overload protection, etc.
My point exactly. I just wasn't sure if anyone here has ran into this sort of situation before, how they handled it, and if OSHA would be able to help.
No disrespect intended, but I do think we are a specialized trade, and I have never, nor will I ever, multitask, as you call it. And I don't know why you think I have to because I'm in a union environment. I've been in the trade for 23 years, and have never been on a job, union or non-union, where we were expected to perform the work of other trades. If trades are not specialized, then why are tests and licenses given? I think you summed it up in your own words in your last paragraph. The place where you saw managers try this ended up with a strike on there hands, and finally closed their doors.

#150891 - 12/28/05 07:59 PM Re: Qualified Electrician?  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
Strike...closed doors...prison....what's the problem?

It does sound like your concerns are valid. Also, my answer (above) was somewhat braod, as your issue is one that may apply to many different working environments.

A little off-topic, but here is an example of when my own ignorance led to my having unnecessary concerns:
I learned the trade in Chicago, in an industrial environment. All the air lines were of steel pipe. I come to Reno, and what do I find? Copper air lines. Different? Sure is. Legal? Turns out it is, and seems to work well. Had I run about screaming "the sky is falling," I would have made a fool of myself.

#150892 - 12/28/05 09:20 PM Re: Qualified Electrician?  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,140
I spent about half my time in state prisons when I was the Florida state electrical inspector. This looks pretty normal to me.
Most of the "electricians" were really inmates anyway. I am not sure there was ever anyone who specialized in being an electrician. The state employees were mostly more on the "management" side of the work. They were just maintenance department employees. All that said some of the best work I ever saw was at Desoto Correctional from Ken Collingsworth and his <incarerated> drug dealers.
That wasn't as bad as the park system where they had rangers who saw enough Bob Vila to think they were electricians.

I always encouraged people to call me if they had a question about anything they were doing.
At a certain point I wasn't an inspector, as much as a consultant. Great gig tho and the money wasn't bad.

Greg Fretwell

#150893 - 12/28/05 10:46 PM Re: Qualified Electrician?  
XtheEdgeX  Offline
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 116
Yeah, I use inmates to pull wire and stuff like that. the stuff that takes more than one person. Very rarely do I find one that has any real experience, though. They apply for jobs with us just like on the street, and most of them want to work to pass the time, but they know very little of the trade. I end up doing most of the work, and all the layout. I teach the ones that want to learn something. Believe it or not, I've had three female inmates that completed the 8600 hour appenticeship program. They got a certificate from the Florida Dept. of Labor for it. One of the few fulfilling moments working for the govt. I could write a book from the things I've seen here. The taxpayers would have a fit if they knew.

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