on 3/2/2021 10:00:00 AM
When it comes to electrical panels it can be confusing to organizations as to what the requirements are and what hospitals can be cited for. I will try to help with some of the more common findings/issues.
Electrical Panel Clearances
One of the most confusing requirements is related to clearances around electrical panels. Let’s try to clear it up.
- There must be a 36-inch clearance in front of electrical equipment. This includes electrical controls and electrical panels. The 36-inch clearance is measured from exposed live parts or from the enclosure/opening where the live parts are enclosed.
- There must maintain a clear width of the electrical controls. The clearance distance is the width of the equipment or 30-inches, whichever is greater. All doors to panels must be able to be opened at least to 90 degrees.
- The height of the working space shall be clear and extend from the grade, floor, or platform to a height of 6 ½ feet or the height of the equipment, whichever is greater.
Electrical Panel Labeling
Each circuit within a breaker box is required to be labeled for the circuit they serve. In some cabinets there are extra breakers, but the breakers are not powering anything. In this case, the breaker would be labeled as a spare. When a spare is used, the breaker must be in the Off position. If a surveyor finds a breaker that is labeled as a spare and it is in the ON position, then hospitals may be cited. The surveyor cannot verify that the label is correct or not.
Locking/Securing Electrical Panels
There is no specific NFPA code that states electrical panels must be locked. However, organizations can be cited from regulatory agencies for not maintaining a safe environment if they feel that the unsecured panels pose a threat; for example, an electrical panel located in a public corridor that controls lights or electrical outlets in a patient room. If the electrical panel is not secured there is nothing that would prevent someone from turning off the circuit to a patient room and having a negative impact on the patient. When electrical panels are located inside a room and the room is secured, it would not be necessary for the panels to be locked/secured as well.
NFPA 99 does require limited access to panels, however this is for new construction or renovation only.
Hopefully, this will help clarify any questions that organizations may have on electrical panels.
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