Patricia M. Thomas, February 23, 2023
Electrical work is any task that exposes a person to a shock or arc flash hazard or could create potential shock or arc flash hazards for future users.
The first step to protect yourself from electrical hazards is to practice Integrated Safety Management. When planning changes to your work—starting a new task, removing or adding equipment, restarting after equipment has been moved or repaired, or adding new people to your work group—be sure to check your Work Planning and Control Activity and procedures.
Ask yourself: “Does the work, hazards, controls, and personnel described and authorized in the WPC Activity match what you are planning to do?” If changes are needed, contact your Division Safety Coordinator for assistance. Always check the condition of electrical equipment before using it.
At January’s All-to-All Meeting, ATAP Division Safety Coordinator Pat Thomas joined Katherine Johnson, EHS Subject Matter Expert for Lockout/Tagout and Ari Harding, Berkeley Lab Electrical Safety Officer in providing guidance on procedures to follow when undertaking research that involves electrical equipment and to prevent electrical hazards.
Electrical work at Berkeley Lab is performed by Qualified Electrical Workers (QEWs) who complete specialized training. There are 4 levels of QEWs at LBNL:
- QEW-Rs are researchers who are trained and qualified to perform specific electrical work tasks on their equipment, as described and authorized in their WPC Activities. If you are interested in obtaining this qualification, please discuss with your Supervisor and contact your Division Safety Coordinator for information about the requirements
- QEW-1s are qualified to work on 50-300 VAC, 50-60 Hz equipment that does not present an arc flash hazard. This work is typically performed by matrixed Engineering Division technicians from our electrical shops.
- QEW-2s are qualified to work on 50-750 VAC, 50-60 Hz equipment, including potential arc flash hazards. Some Facilities electricians and Engineering Division electrical engineers and technicians have this advanced level of training and qualification.
- QEW-3s are qualified to work on equipment > 750 VAC or 60 Hz. This type of work is typically done by Facilities personnel who are qualified to work on LBNL’s power distribution systems.
If you are not a QEW, and have electrical equipment > 50 VAC or > 5 mA that needs work (including testing and troubleshooting), always stop and reach out to a QEW for support. You may be allowed to do some work on your equipment under the supervision of a QEW, but always discuss with the QEW and obtain approval before beginning the work:
- Engineering Division offers QEW support for Lockout-Tagout < 480 VAC, vendor maintenance, supervision of researcher’s work, and minor equipment repairs/fabrication. Submit Engineering QEW support requests to: https://electricalsafety.lbl.gov/request-help/or https://engineering.lbl.gov/qewsupport/
- Facilities Division offers QEW support for high-voltage LOTOs and building wiring, including installing new outlets or electrical panels. For Facilities QEW support requests, contact your Building Manager or the Facilities Work Request Center: https://workrequest.lbl.gov/
Please contact Pat Thomas, ATAP Division Safety Coordinator for advice and help related to electrical work requiring LOTO, QEWs, and all other types of safety work.