Recently, at a critical military installation, PTI completed a project removing legacy electro- mechanical relays with digital microprocessor relays. These relays are used to provide protection and control of the medium and low voltage distribution systems at the facility. Besides giving the customer more protective schemes than existed before, they allow the customer system status communications with the facility’s operation center and the high voltage engineering center at the facility. This task was a challenging endeavor that required significant wiring and switchgear modifications. Because of the vital mission for this site, no interruption of power was possible. During PTI’s testing and commissioning of the modified equipment, PTI unearthed shortcomings with the switchgear circuitry. PTI then provided solutions to the site engineers for their approval and executed the accomplishment of those tasks.
All PTI technicians are NETA certified, receive periodic product (relay, switchgear, controls, etc.) training and understand equipment operations. This allows them to provide recommendations and to engineer solutions to uncovered shortcomings.
A federal government customer experienced an issue with the starter for a critical chiller that could have threatened operations at a facility that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The customer had been troubleshooting the problem for days to no avail. Their frustration was at a very high level by the time they called in Potomac Testing Inc.’s technicians to investigate the faulty starter. While performing testing specified by the InterNational Electrical Testing Association (NETA), our field engineer specialist discovered irregularities with the autotransformer winding resistance. Reduced voltage starter systems use an autotransformer to adjust the voltage during starting. PTI located a replacement autotransformer, assisted with installation and retested the unit. PTI also recommended operating changes to the customer which would alleviate some of the issues they had experienced with the unit. After one long day, they had the chiller running as designed, and the customer had regained faith in their system.
All PTI technicians are NETA certified, receive periodic product (relay, switchgear, controls, etc.)training and understand equipment operations so they can provide recommendations and repair solutions. These individuals are also trained in the requirements of NFPA 70E (Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace) and can conduct the tests in a safe manner and with complete knowledge of the hazards involved.
According to OSHA, in November 2014, the father of a young daughter was testing transformers when he was electrocuted. He was rushed to the hospital, but did not survive. As reported by Sandy Smith in EHS Today magazine, OSHA investigators found that this death might have been prevented if his employer had supplied adequate personal protective equipment, followed safety procedures and provided training.
“In seconds, a family was altered forever, and a young girl is now fatherless,” said Bill McDonald, one of OSHA’s area directors. “Companies that operate with high-voltage electricity must train workers to recognize hazards and use proper procedures to prevent electrical shock. No one should die on-the-job.”
The employer was cited for one willful and 14 serious safety violations. In 2013, there were 71 worker fatalities due to electrocution, and 29 CFR 1910.305, OSHA’s electrical standard, is one of the top ten most frequently violated OSHA standards. In one of the citations against this employer, OSHA noted, “The employer did not assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).”
OSHA also said that this particular employer “did not establish a program consisting of energy control procedures, employee training and periodic inspections to ensure that before any employee performs any servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment where the unexpected energizing, startup or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury, the machine or equipment was not isolated from the energy source and rendered inoperative.” The company faces penalties of $106,400.
Facility managers and employees need to work around potentially dangerous electrical equipment every day. They need to know what they can and can’t do — and when to call in the experts. Potomac Testing is that expert, whether on-site, or in Potomac Testing’s classroom space, the Potomac team provides structured training for employees. A must for new employees, Potomac also offers courses as a refresher for veteran team members or to introduce the latest technology and techniques. Ask us about scheduling a class to meet your requirements.
This story was originally reported in EHS Today Magazine.
Between September 26-28, 2012, Potomac Testing, Inc. hosted the PEARL (Professional Electrical Apparatus Recyclers League) Standards Review Committee Meeting at their headquarters in Crofton, Maryland. Robert Wrobel, Project Manager, at Potomac Testing is currently the President of the Standards Review Committee. This meeting, as well as several planned in the very near future, are being conducted in preparation for ANSI Certification as it relates to distribution equipment refurbishment procedures. This certification will allow the industry to standardize use of the term “refurbishment”.
Potomac Testing, Inc. a NETA Accredited Company, welcomes Erik Pollock from the Center for Applied Technology(CAT) South as the newest addition to our testing and engineering family. Currently enrolled as a senior at South River High School/CAT South, Erik will be working in our Circuit Breaker Refurbishment/Upgrade Shop under the direction of George Riddle. In this position he will be exposed to the techniques required in the trouble shooting and repair of low and medium voltage Air Circuit Breakers to include the teardown and reassembly, as well as the retrofitting and testing in our PEARL (Professional Electrical Apparatus Recyclers League) Certified shop.
In partnership with Tammy Diedrich, the Work-Based Learning Coordinator at CAT South, we hope to continue providing workplace opportunities for students in Anne Arundel County that want to experience classroom electrical and mechanical theories being applied in real world situations.