I used to fight this all the time! It was sooooo frustrating! The super didn't care, the building inspector didn't care, and the electrical inspector usually let it go once the building inspector and super talked it over with him. (I will say the electrical inspectors were never electricians) I did see it actually enforced when the box had a label in big letters that said it was required for servicing. Lots of re-work in that ceiling and not by the electricians.
Looks like just about every installation that I have had the displeasure to install. And this doesn't even scratch the surface of the accessibility problems created by cubical partitions and fluorescent lights that are more or less locked in place by the ductwork, making it near impossible to contort your torso into position to just see the cover, let alone work on the unit.
It surprises me that this is a generally accepted method in the industry. We have all seen it hundreds of times. Most inspectors won’t give it a second look. There too busy writing up a workspace violation for a transformer that has 41 of the required 42” work space clearance in front of it in an electric room. (True story. And it was onlt 8" of the transformer!)
[This message has been edited by Nick (edited 02-17-2002).]
Maybe the only way that design engineers, architects, and inspectors will begin to understand the need or the justification for the code specs is if you ask/require/demand that they come assist you in the maintenance or repair of such units. Ask the engineer/architect/inspector to come with you and hold a flashlight and to watch your movements (and on both arms/hands) so you don't come into contact with anything that will zap/fry you. While he's there, tell him not to let any of his body touch anything except the soles of his shoes where he's standing. Maybe by that point he'll have a little clue as to the intent behind the codes.. Ya think?
Well now let's see. I guess I'll vent a little..and it will be totally unrealistic, but...We could have a law that requires an accessibility and maintenance safety review for all newly occupied buildings..say, within the first 3 months..kind of like what the fire marshall does periodically..but much more comprehensively..and publically announce the 'report card' for all the parties responsible for creating impossible or prohibitively expensive maintenance problems, including the inspectors that miss their calls. That way, the architects and engineers who design to the bare minimum, and expect the subs to field coordinate and verify their rough plans, will quickly get some feedback about their poor performance. Additionally, the contractors who play the "me-first" game will be held accountable for their lack of team play. Obviously, the present system just barely gets the building running, and passes the hidden costs down to the businesses that have to maintain the building. They don't realize how they are being abused. They in turn pass the costs down to the consumer, so the present system is just a drag on the economy and creating safety problems for all the workers. Everyone just accepts the present situation as the norm. Now, for a rational problem solving procedure, proposals should come AFTER the situation(s) is/are adequately described, and target areas for redress are focused on. This is the S.T.P. method (Situation, Target, Proposal). We appear to have some consensus that there are access problems to equipment above ceilings. That is one Situation that needs to be described better. Then, we would need to find out how these problems are created in the first place, to find out who makes the poor choices leading to the problems, to find out what confluence of un-coordination aggravates the problems, these are some Target areas. Then Proposals can be responsibly generated. My 'venting' proposal was just 'stirring the pot'. The real solution (if there is one) will take concerted effort. What organization is out there that can supply that concerted effort?