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#46004 12/09/04 11:01 PM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 51
The plant in which I work (as a technician/mechanic on the production floor)is doing some remodeling to the break room. We have a GC and a local EC working "together" on the project. After work on Tuesday, I was in the break room waiting for one of my fellow tech's to finish his shift. The GC and EC's had left for the day.

I went over to the coffee vending machine to get a cup-a-joe, when I noticed the doors open to the "broom closet", which actually houses the breaker panel for our equipment garage and some of the offices, along with a disconnect switch.

The cover was removed from the breaker panel, and was sitting on the floor. Thought maybe it was powered off, didn't get too excited. Being curious of other people's work (quality), I decided to "inspect" it. I had a meter in my lunch box, one of my extra's -taking it home-, so, I figured I would test to make sure it was off.

Looks like a CH 40 or 44 brkr panel. Three main wires feeding it, identified (taped) red, yellow, blue. And, an identified white wire to a terminal bus. I read 260VAC between each of the three feeders, and 120VAC between each of these and the white wire.

I see no main breaker in this panel. Also, a few green wires along with white wires on the terminal bus. I am thinking "Has to be a sub panel, but, grounded conductors and grounding conductors bonded together?"

What really made me sick, and then angry, was that there was NO ONE in sight of this panel (but me), and our farmed-out cleaning crew (husband, wife, and daughter) were cleaning the break room at the time! This is where they keep their brooms and dustpans.

I put the cover back in place, and turned the mounting screws in finger tight. I oriented the screw slots vertically, so I can see if it has been removed since.

Two minutes after I put the cover on, the daughter, maybe 11, comes over and gets a dustpan, coming within maybe two feet of the panel I just covered. Today is Thursday, and I believe that the panel may have still been uncovered if I had not replaced it.

Girl: "Hey, Mom, what's this?" I'll stop right here, I don't want to think the scenarios out further.

How careless and casual, I don't know who removed the cover, but, at least it is on there now!

Next time I see the electricians I will ask them if they were "working" on the panel, and meant to leave it "ventilated".

Should I take it further? Or, just be glad I was in the right place in the right time (hypothetically, of course).

Thanks for reading.


#46005 12/09/04 11:13 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,275
Likes: 2
Leaving live exposed equipment is at the least a very foolish thing to do. Does your plant have a safety guy?? At minimum, I would talk to the EC/GC if you feel comfortable doing that. Otherwise, your "boss"/super etc should be made aware of the liability.

IMHO, you did the right thing to prevent an accident, however are you "qualified" to install the cover on a live panel?? What if you had an unfortunate incident and had a flash condition?? Please don't take this the wrong way.....but if you had a situation develop putting the cover on, you may have been hassled.


#46006 12/09/04 11:20 PM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 51

Yes, I am qualified to do what I did, working with 208VAC, 460VAC in the plant all the time (mostly motor controls) . I have an AOS degree as an Electromechanical Systems Mechanic. Though, not a licensed electrician. Of course there was danger there, and there could have been an incident, but knowing the dangers, I believed what I did was right.

Thanks for the reply.

I know the sparkys as friends, and will talk to them as soon as I see them next.


#46007 12/09/04 11:52 PM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 186
Dont let anyone tell you differant you putting the cover back on was the right thing to do. Come on its only turning in 6 screws or so the chances of a flash accident happening is slim. What ever be the case good looking out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would for certain report in to your boss, always follow your chain of command do not approach the ec or gc its not your place, this is something that could come back to bite you, approaching them that is

#46008 12/10/04 12:18 AM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,275
Likes: 2
I hope you don't think that I'm being a smart axx. I had the misfortune of one of my experienced (15+ yrs) sparkies put a panel cover on a 200A/208V42 circ panel that "someone" left off. Well, turned out that there was a cracked 2 pole 60 that decided to spill it's guts, and that was a nice flash.

My comment above was aimed at someone who may have been 'outside' his job responsibilities, & me NOT knowing his qualifications. YES, he did the right thing, and may have prevented an accident, maybe saved a life, and definatley prevented a lawyer from making $$$$$$$

Be safe and Happy Holidays


#46009 12/10/04 05:40 AM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 354
Nice work BP-running bear, by putting that cover back on you may have stopped a tragic accident. As for reporting the violation, I'll quote the navy thing again, "not on my watch, not on my ship, not in my navy. Maybe tricky if they are your friends though.

#46010 12/10/04 10:45 PM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 51
I mentioned the incident to my supervisor, and am letting it go at that. Not my place to make a big fuss over this.

Everyone makes mistakes, I'm certainly not perfect. It was a simple mistake, but, one that could have bitten someone very badly.

Do electricians generally remove panel covers from live panels?

These were most likely tracing the origins of a few circuits in the section that is being remodeled.

BP-redbear (not running bear, kiwi, but, made me laugh, just the same!!)

Yes, remember to be SAFE, everyone wants to go home at the end of the day, and certainly to enjoy the holidays.

#46011 12/12/04 11:10 AM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 259
It seems your broom closet is an electrical room. I hate having to move shelves and brooms and crap to reach a panel to do work.

#46012 12/13/04 01:14 AM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 86
As a small contractor I have forgotten to put a panel cover on and appreciated folks like you that took the time to put it on but also let us know about it. Sometimes we need to be reminded to make sure everything is closed up before we leave. Usually happens after a day of intense searching for wiring unmarked by others leading to mental exhaustion. Only an unprofessional electrician would resent you bringing this situation to their attention. Most would thank you and consider you a friend for letting them know. This idea of never touching anything for fear of liability is getting out of hand in this country and soon we'll be afraid to even talk to each other because of "liability", although I have met folks that weren't "qualified" to talk. lol

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