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 Post subject: Non-electrician resetting circuit breakers
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 8:02 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 10, 2015 5:48 am
Posts: 5
We currently have training procedures for certain operators to reset certain panel circuit breakers in the event that they trip. They are only allowed to reset circuit breakers on Cat 0 panels (higher than Cat 0 an electrician is called, and if it trips again then an electrician is called). However, with the new code, Cat 0 is no more and soon all our arc flash labels will be updated. This prompted a lot of discussion on whether or not operators should be allowed to reset circuit breakers, and on what category panels, and with what-if any- PPE.

Just wondering how other facilities handle non-electrical personnel resetting circuit breakers on Cat 1-4 panels?


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 Post subject: Re: Non-electrician resetting circuit breakers
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 4:15 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:08 am
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Location: North Carolina
twrmtu wrote:
We currently have training procedures for certain operators to reset certain panel circuit breakers in the event that they trip. They are only allowed to reset circuit breakers on Cat 0 panels (higher than Cat 0 an electrician is called, and if it trips again then an electrician is called). However, with the new code, Cat 0 is no more and soon all our arc flash labels will be updated. This prompted a lot of discussion on whether or not operators should be allowed to reset circuit breakers, and on what category panels, and with what-if any- PPE.

Just wondering how other facilities handle non-electrical personnel resetting circuit breakers on Cat 1-4 panels?


Sounds like first off the issue is with who is qualified. 70E makes it very clear that unqualified personnel are trained to avoid hazards and qualified personnel are trained to deal with hazards while performing certain tasks. That being said, it's not uncommon for operators to be trained to perform certain tasks but not for instance be trained in using arc flash PPE or shock protection. There is slightly more you need to know as far as doing a visual inspection such as looking to see if there are signs of soot, water infiltration, etc. Even with electrical work, electricians are trained to perform certain tasks and up to certain voltages. For instance I'd guess that the vast majority are not trained on performing bare-hands, live-line work on 230 kV transmission lines but the line workers that are trained to do that probably have no business working on 480 V MCC's either. Again...it's the work methods and equipment you are trained on.

Second and more importantly, OSHA is very, very clear on the fact that whenever a circuit breaker or fuse trips, you MUST investigate and fix the cause of it. There are no options, alternatives, or guess work on this. So the "reset once" rule is flat out an OSHA regulatory violation. Outside of OSHA jurisdictioons, every single molded case circuit breaker manufacurer that I've checked references NEMA AB-4 for molded case circuit breaker maintenance. You also can't just reset it. You MUST perform an inspection of the circuit breaker every time before placing it back in operation whenever it trips. This is because circuit breakers are only rated for a very small number of faults at full interrupting capacity and the last time it tripped may be the last time it will ever trip again. Lighting panels in particular are a major conundrum because it is flat out impossible to do the inspection according to NEMA AB-4 without removing the cover including the inset panel section, which on bigger panels is just plain dangerous to do while energized because they are so flimsy.


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 Post subject: Re: Non-electrician resetting circuit breakers
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 1:28 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:05 am
Posts: 27
Great question. In some of our facilities we've invested in moving the circuit breaker resets to the outside of the panel. In most of our facilities we have trained (and continue to train) non-electricians to inspect and wear PPE to open panels safely to reset tripped breakers once. These non-electricians have their own certification program of training (35 hours total of basic electricity, electrical safety and hands-on fuse changing). All of this is clearly stated in our electrical safety policy too. Hope this helps.


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 Post subject: Re: Non-electrician resetting circuit breakers
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 5:20 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:40 am
Posts: 89
Hi All

I agree that this is an excellent question and often resetting breakers is deemed as a simple and under estimated task. Basically I am mirroring Pauls comments above, howeer have to emphasize that when a breaker trips, in oppose to automatically conducting a reset. One must be aware as to why the breaker tripped? Overload or short circuit condition. The operator needs to investigate this, which presents another challenge, does the operator know what to look for and the right questions to ask of others. This is why some level of awareness and electrical safety is necessary for these folks. Also some basics on the function, parts and operation of a circuit breaker would not hurt also


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 Post subject: Re: Non-electrician resetting circuit breakers
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:02 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:31 am
Posts: 238
Location: Port Huron, Michigan
If a breaker trips in my home do I need to open up the covers on the circuit panel and inspect that breaker for damage? Do I need to call in an electrician to do that for me?


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 Post subject: Re: Non-electrician resetting circuit breakers
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 2:01 pm 
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Voltrael wrote:
If a breaker trips in my home do I need to open up the covers on the circuit panel and inspect that breaker for damage? Do I need to call in an electrician to do that for me?


Not unless you are on the job...OSHA doesn't apply!

UL 489 molded case breakers (to say nothing of their ANSI counterparts) are only rated for somewhere between 2-3 and 50 interruptions at full ratings and several thousand at no-load conditions. Opening under a fault is the highest stress the breaker will see in operation. So the odds are not good when it comes to operating a breaker after a fault.

That being said, NEMA AB-4 is available for FREE from www.nema.org. It's a free download. There are less than a handful of standards that NEMA publishes that are actually free so that's the reason I mention it. I suggest reading it first.

In short NEMA AB-4 requires the following:
1. A visual inspection after every TRIP. It takes roughly 10 seconds to do this. The standard has nice color pictures of what to look for. Most of the more extensive inspections only occur if the first 10 second look finds anything. The reason that lighting panels are such a problem is that to follow NEMA AB-4 correctly you really need to inspect the breaker terminals and the casing. In a live front panel or an MCC (if the remote operator doesn't fully enclose everything) this is easy. In a dead front panel, it's just not possible short of taking the panel apart. So far I've been using the direction of "look at what you can see". This really isn't compliant but I'm at a loss as to what else to do. Ultimately perhaps the best option is to use lexan or lucite covers but if we go there, then we need to get serious about dust/contamination ratings for lighting panels as well, most of which are just plain terrible even if they have some kind of NEMA rating higher than 1.
2. Exercise the breakers once a year. Based on what I know from a reliability point of view the NFPA 70B requirement which is every 3-5 years for continuous operation is probably more appropriate.
3. PERIODICALLY do the visual inspection and do some sort of testing to verify that everything is working properly, but NEMA AB-4 is pretty vague on how often (if ever) this has to be done. My own perspective is this:
A. If the breaker is "large" (800 A frame or larger) there is evidence (IEEE Gold book) that the failure rate is about 3 times higher than small breakers. So we need to do these ones.
B. If the breaker is "critical" such as protecting a fire panel or some other safety/critical equipment then subject it to the full test.
C. Related to B, if the breaker is what controls the incident energy for equipment that is routinely worked on, then again it must be selected for periodic testing.
D. Otherwise in reality its not "critical" equipment. So like every breaker in the lighting panel in your house, run to failure.


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