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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 244
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wewire2 Offline OP
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Should a removable bollard be allowed in the required working space of a meter panel? I'm guessing it's up to the inspector since it's along the lines of placing a panel in a location encroached on by the door swing. What do you think?

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Joined: Jun 2004
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Absolutely not.

The switches in a panel need to always be accessible in emergency circumstances -- by non-electricians, to boot.

The time delay to remove a bollard is plainly enough to cause enhanced injury or death.

Indefensible in court, by the way.

In an exterior situation, such bollards are locked down with padlocks. The keys to which will only be 30 minutes away when seconds count.


Tesla
Joined: Apr 2002
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The distance from the panel to the bollard has to be compliant with 110.26. Is the bollard in question blocking access to the OCP, or is access possible?


John
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,233
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Let me get this straight, there is going to be a bollard in front of a panel, inside of the required working space? It is suppose to be removable? If you are working on the panel, you would remove the bollard before you start the work, leaving you the required workspace clearance. Right? That might be OK, but on the other hand, if there is an emergency, and you are trying to reach the panel to shut off something in a hurry, that bollard will block your access to the panel?

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twh Offline
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Has anyone ever had to get to a panel in an emergency? This isn't a question of whether anyone could imagine needing to, but an actual emergency. I'm not questioning the working space. Just the emergency aspect.

Motors have controllers. Lights have switches. Computers have plugs. I think fire fighters kill the power outside.

I've been in restaurants where it takes 5 minutes to empty the room of janitorial supplies; in public buildings with locked panels and keys locked in someone's office; in office buildings in locked rooms only accessible to the maintenance staff who are all outside; locked in the MCC room so the production staff can't get to it; behind deep freezes, washers and dryers; and even places where no one knows where the panel is. Never have I heard, "dang, we could have saved ... if only that box wasn't in the way."

How about you?

Joined: Jul 2004
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G
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My first thought is no.
I would have to see it but I might be able to say if you can open the panel cover easily and had plenty of room to access the breakers it might be OK. I would approach it skeptically tho.
I understand it is also important to protect the panel from physical damage. They would need a very compelling reason for the bollard to be there. Obviously having the bollards out past the limits of working space is what they should be doing.

The next question is how heavy is the bollard?
Would OSHA let one man pick it up? (<50 lbs) That could be the deal breaker.

There are 2 issues with working space
One is clear access to the breakers, the other is actual working space where you are away from any grounded objects when you have the dead front off.
My fear is that, even if this was easy to move, the worker might not do it and be firmly grounded with his hands in the hot panel. There are several safety violations there but we all know that sort of thing is common.


Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,273
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In the court room, foul-ups on the part of owners and staff don't bite the contractor -- nor soil the reputation of the AHJ.

The strangest dang things happen -- and then the litigation starts.

As a professional, you want your work to never be blamed for injury or death -- in court.

Towards that end, the NEC is you best defense.

The defense of:"I've never seen that before,..." is not going to cut it.

========

The typical, relevant, panic emergency is triggered by earthquakes/ tsunamis and collisions.

As the Sendai tsunami showed, all bets are off. Yet, you still, in that instance, had an opportunity to kill power before the sea came in -- and up.

Sandy is another instance of the slow build nightmare. Rather than waiting for the OCPD to trip, a wise person kills the power at the panel/ Service. In such circumstances, leaving things energized just makes conditions worse.

BTW, it's astonishing to think that the Japanese 'blew off' the significance of the (Richter 9.0) earthquake -- staying too casual -- even as the monster tsunami raced landward.

The quake was so strong that it threw people into the air -- and tossed moving trains clean off the tracks. (Entire trains went missing -- and into the ocean.) Even that was not enough to alert the common man.) Public warning claxtons were wailing straight on through, of course.

Sendai, Sandi -- and the Jonestown flood all show that false alarms and false security are lethal.

[We may be seeing a bizarre repetition of this phenomena WRT North Korea. Kim has everyone puzzled.]



Tesla
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 244
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wewire2 Offline OP
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Greg, good point on the OSHA question. A little more info on this. The meter panel is a tag-on to existing switchgear and is fed via a 1200 amp main disconnect so it would be a redundant switch as far as killing all power to the building in an emergency. The bollard would be a 3" GRC with concrete fill. The customer is requiring the G.C. to install a bollard and they want it placed close and directly in front of the meter since the commercial driveway space is at a minimum. They are under the impression that if it is removable then it's OK. I couldn't find a sure answer in the NEC but as Tesla mentioned it doesn't seem like a good idea. Even if an inspector did pass it I'm sure it wouldn't be hard for a lawyer make a case if something unexpected happened. His opening statement would for sure include the words "readily accessible".

Joined: Jul 2004
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Why not 2 bollards straddling the panel, 30+" apart. That would offer better protection and still keep the front of the equipment clear. I see this quite often in underground garages where parking is plenty tight.
You may still have the accessibility problems if someone is parked right up against the bollard.


Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,273
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Greg's solution is the preferred one.

Also, be warry of punching bollard holes anywhere near panels that have underground feeders/ branch circuits.



Tesla
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