This piece was originally published in the August 2016 issue of electroindustry.
Gene Eckhart, Consultant, NEMA
The U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Standards Program (CESP) is a long-range development program sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), coordinated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in partnership with Power Africa, and led by the U.S. Agency for International Development. NEMA is consulting with ANSI to present workshops in sub-Saharan countries as part of the Power Africa initiative.
The multiyear CESP provides a forum relating to standards, conformity assessment, and technical regulations that enables industry and government representatives from the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa to
- cooperate on issues for clean energy technologies;
- foster the relationships necessary to facilitate U.S.-Africa technical exchange; and
- exchange information on the latest issues and developments in the clean energy space.
NEMA presented the first workshop on electrical safety in Cape Town, South Africa, as part of the 16th annual Africa Utility Week. Acknowledging that an electrical infrastructure and reliable access to electricity are fundamental to economic development (a key objective of Power Africa), experience shows that safety is the highest concern. The audience included representatives from financial institutions, electrical utility service providers, contractors responsible for installation, and residential, commercial, and industrial users.
The fundamental message of the workshop was that electrical safety depends on two equally important parts: technical infrastructure and safe practices. From a technical standpoint, a safe electrical system requires a rigorous installation code, products that are designed and manufactured to world-class standards, testing and certification to assure users that the products meet the standards to which they are manufactured, and overall system inspection from knowledgeable experts before it is permitted to be energized and used. Regarding safe practices, users of electricity need to be aware that their actions affect their safety in nearly all environments—industrial, commercial, and residential.
Speakers first introduced the National Electrical Safety Code. Developed and published by the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers as an American National Standard, the code governs the infrastructure of electrical utilities in the U.S.
The focus then moved to the National Electrical Code® (NEC). Published by the National Fire Protection Association, it is the model code that U.S. states and municipalities adopt as the basis of electrical installation. The presentation included a discussion of electrical product standards that complement the NEC and the critical need for product testing and certification.
The final segment covered the importance of inspecting electrical installations at the planning stage, during the construction process, and upon completion to ensure that the system works as designed.
Several publications from the Electrical Safety Foundation International illustrated the importance of following safe practices.Read the August 2016 issue of electroindustry.