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#149527 - 11/11/03 09:32 PM OSHA and large breakers  
drillman  Offline
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 97
Somewhere in Texas
A little background first.

I am a master licensed electrician who works for a large county jail in Texas. There are 15 maint guys with one licensed electrician and one licensed HVAC man.

My old boss was an engineer and pretty much left me alone as long as I fixed what was broke.

We got a new boss, he is a sergeant in the corrections dept. In other words he is a guard supervisor. This is actually good as he has more experince supervising than the engineer did.

Now to the subject.

The new boss wants me to write up a procedure for resetting main circuit breakers in the buildings if they trip. The reason he stated was so he can give it to the guards in each building so that if something trips in the middle of the night they can turn it back on.

I do not know what OSHA rules are, but I consider myself a "qualified person" and have had training in stepping down and stepping up and have been involved in power ups and shut downs of large buildings in the past.

My fear is that he wants "unqualified persons" with no background in electric work to go around and close 3,000 amp breakers using the procedure that I will write.

Can anyone point to an OSHA rule regarding throwing large breakers and or discos? Does the person even need to be "qualified"?

My feelings are real simple, if the main breaker blows you need to find out WHY before you start turning things on. Thats what they pay me for.

Many thanks for any advice.

Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools

#149528 - 11/12/03 01:30 AM Re: OSHA and large breakers  
jlhmaint  Offline
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 202
Fredericktown, OH, U.S.A
Here is a link to osha page that talks about what you are asking. You can also look up the information online or look for the local office in your area and call them for guidence.

#149529 - 11/12/03 07:44 AM Re: OSHA and large breakers  
winnie  Offline
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 649
boston, ma
Dumb question:

Does your site have a significant problem with nuisance tripping of the main breakers? As in the main breaker trips, you go out and try to find the source of the problem, find nothing wrong, and then essentially 'turn it on' again without having to fix anything?

I'd think that nuisance tripping on the main breaker indicates a problem with protection coordination which needs to be fixed, rather than patched by having unqualified persons restore service. If you don't have nuisance trips on the main breakers, then unqualified persons shouldn't be trying to restore service...they don't know what's gone wrong to cause the trip in the first place.

Note: I have _zero_ experience with large switch gear and breakers.


#149530 - 11/12/03 08:23 AM Re: OSHA and large breakers  
Redsy  Offline
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,056
Bucks County PA

Very nice link!

#149531 - 11/12/03 12:37 PM Re: OSHA and large breakers  
jlhmaint  Offline
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 202
Fredericktown, OH, U.S.A
With the experience i have over the past 10yrs I personnely wouldn't let guards reset large breakers. If they want to let them reset general 120v breakers thats fine unless they continue to trip. But as for 3,000 amp no way in you know what would i let them. I would write the procedure that they have to call qualified person such as yourself or one of the other maintenance men. To many things can go wrong.

#149532 - 11/12/03 01:04 PM Re: OSHA and large breakers  
George Corron  Offline
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 717
Lorton, Va USA
OSHA is an ace in the hole on this one, but check out the ACA standards as well.

I worked at a large prison for 7 years (as a matter of fact, it was Lorton Prison and they shipped half our boys down your way when they closed down) and Correctional staff was NEVER allowed to reset.

They do NOT know how to check for fault, they are likely to close back into a fault and that will/could destroy equipment that may have been able to be repaired. IOW they have not been judged electrically qualified by your governing authority.

Suggest you try to find some videos on arc blast to convince him of the problem you may encounter with no experience in these matters.

That said, we used to let them reset NO MORE THAN a 20 amp breaker, and only once, then call us, and only off hours. Let's face it, they know if they just plugged a 1500 watt heater in 10 seconds before the breaker popped.

He is also placing the correctional staff in a precarious position. They may not want to go along with this program either.

Good luck

#149533 - 11/13/03 12:59 AM Re: OSHA and large breakers  
drillman  Offline
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 97
Somewhere in Texas
Thanks guys, that link was exactly what I needed. OSHA regs are kinda like the code book, its hard to find your way around without practice.

I am glad to see that you guys feel the same way I do. We have had no trouble with nusiance tripping of main breakers in the year I have been there which is why I wonder where this whole thing came from.

We did have a subpanel breaker trip in the kitchen and it was because someone sprayed water at a light switch. Not a nusiance in my book. This was a series rated system.

What is ACA standards?

Thanks again for your help.

#149534 - 11/13/03 08:26 AM Re: OSHA and large breakers  
George Corron  Offline
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 717
Lorton, Va USA
NFPA 70 E "Standards for Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces" is a good beginning. For Safety rules, they repeat OSHA 1926 and 1910, and I think they are easier to understand.

Part 2 Safety Related Work Practices. I'd have to ask your Sarge, if he really wants this.

Employees who are not trained with your lock out/Tag out program, cannot evaluate hazard, are unfamiliar with approach boundaries and flash hazards are NOT qualified to perform any electrical tasks.

I don't think anyone wants to see some wholesale end to people simply resetting a branch circuit, but to have a policy requiring untrained personnel to do so in the workplace invites litigation and catastrophe in the case of your jail.

The judge says "Mr. Lockdown, before the breaker blew up in your face, causing your injury, (or you started the fire on the block by repeatedly resetting a breaker into a fault, etc.) were you aware of the FLASH HAZARD ANALYSIS that is required by OSHA?" DOH!!! Did you attempt to contact qualified personnel? What's that you say, it's your policy for YOU to reset the breaker?" DOH!!!

I can understand his wanting to cut some call back costs, but this is not the area to cut, excessive call backs mean you need to look into your system and it's protection, but not to hand over control of that system in the off hours to unqualified individuals. BAD move.

70E goes into the training required for an individual to be qualified, and wearing a badge does not do it, been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

Sorry about that, initials can become such a part of your life, I guess at jails you don't deal with ACA.

American Correctional Association.

Federal Bureau of Prisons used to have some of their standards on line, I'll try to make time to see if they still do today.

WE had a supervisor who got mad because the locksmith refused to train inmates in lock repair once........... TOP that one!!!

#149535 - 11/14/03 08:28 AM Re: OSHA and large breakers  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,223
SI,New Zealand

Good advice, resetting a Breaker, without clearing the fault, that caused the trip beforehand is a very silly, if not stupid thing to do.
Especially with high amperage breakers, and having a dead short in a system cable, the results can be nasty!.

[This message has been edited by Trumpy (edited 11-14-2003).]

#149536 - 11/14/03 08:13 PM Re: OSHA and large breakers  
BuggabooBren  Offline
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 328
That's too funny, George!

Wonder what the risk mitigation plan would look like for a preventable accident due to an arc blast:

Cell doors will be
_locked _unlocked
for the duration of the electrical crisis and any follow-on conditions such as fire, flood, smoke-filled areas, etc.

Hmmm, who gets to explain this to the big kahunas when justifying a call-out pay bill vs. a preventable event at a jail?

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