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IEEE releases National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) 2012 edition

August 16, 2011 | By Alyssa Dalton

August 16, 2011 – IEEE has launched its new National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) – 2012 Edition, which it claims to provide practical guidance to help safeguard employees and the public when electrical supply and communications lines are installed operated and maintained, including overhead and underground electrical supply lines, telephone or cable and TV lines, and signal and power installations for railroads.

“The NESC continues to be the industry standard in the electrical industry and communications utility field,” said Michael Hyland, chair, NESC committee and senior VP of Engineering Services for the American Public Power Association (APPA). “We are happy to have had the opportunity to take part in this project and are very pleased with its final outcome.”

Revisions in the NESC 2012 edition include:

• Scope, application and definition rules extensively revised to provide clarification improvements, particularly with respect to whether the NESC or the National Electrical Code (NEC) (NFPA 70) applies in certain situations.
• Grounding rules added specificity to the methods to be used to help achieve effective grounding connections.
• Electrical supply stations rules added options for improved protection of energized parts from interference by activities outside the stations and for guarding inside the stations. The overhead general rules revised requirements for inspections and for facilities to be grounded or insulated.
• Underground rules revised the inspection rules and clarified requirements for direct-buried cables and conduits not part of a conduit system.
• Work rules added options for determining appropriate arc ratings for apparel to be worn while working on energized lines, including a new Section on Clothing requirements for <1000 Volts and added maximum clearing times allowed for specified apparel arc ratings.
• Revised the minimum approach distances (MADs) to meet the requirements of IEEE 516TM-2009, and revised specification for the location of employee protective grounds.


The NESC covers a range of areas including storage batteries, transformers and conductors to switchgear, circuit breakers, physical clearances, cable terminations, safety warning signs, and protective clothing for workers installing electrical equipment. For example, its clearance rules outline the minimum distances between electric transmission wires and the ground, and structures such as buildings and trees.

“As the trusted steward for the NESC standardization process, the IEEE Standards Association plays a vital role in helping to improve the safety of electricity supply workers and the public by publishing the Code,” said Judith Gorman, managing director, IEEE-SA. “Today the Code is used throughout the U.S. and in more than 100 countries, and we are proud of our ongoing commitment to maintain the NESC as it executes its rigorous process that results in consistent high quality and reputation throughout the industry.”

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