For other uses, see Electrician (disambiguation).
TVA electricians, Tennessee, 1942
|Maintenance, Electrical Grid|
An electrician is a tradesman specializing in electrical wiring of buildings, stationary machines, and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. Electricians may also specialize in wiring ships, airplanes, and other mobile platforms, as well as data and cable.
Electricians were originally people who demonstrated or studied the principles of electricity, often electrostatic generators of one form or another.
In the United States, electricians are divided into two primary categories: linemen, who work on electric utility company distribution systems at higher voltages, and wiremen, who work with the lower voltages utilized inside buildings. Wiremen are generally trained in one of five primary specialties: commercial, residential, light industrial, industrial, and low-voltage wiring, more commonly known as Voice-Data-Video, or VDV. Other sub-specialties such as control wiring and fire-alarm may be performed by specialists trained in the devices being installed, or by inside wiremen.
Electricians are trained to one of three levels: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Electrician. In the US and Canada, apprentices work and receive a reduced compensation while learning their trade. They generally take several hundred hours of classroom instruction and are contracted to follow apprenticeship standards for a period of between three and six years, during which time they are paid as a percentage of the Journeyman's pay. Journeymen are electricians who have completed their Apprenticeship and who have been found by the local, State, or National licensing body to be competent in the electrical trade. Master Electricians have performed well in the trade for a period of time, often seven to ten years, and have passed an exam to demonstrate superior knowledge of the National Electrical Code, or NEC.
Service electricians are tasked to respond to requests for isolated repairs and upgrades. They have skills troubleshooting wiring problems, installing wiring in existing buildings, and making repairs. Construction electricians primarily focus on larger projects, such as installing all new electrical system for an entire building, or upgrading an entire floor of an office building as part of a remodeling process. Other specialty areas are marine electricians, research electricians and hospital electricians. "Electrician" is also used as the name of a role in stagecraft, where electricians are tasked primarily with hanging, focusing, and operating stage lighting. In this context, the Master Electrician is the show's chief electrician. Although theater electricians routinely perform electrical work on stage lighting instruments and equipment, they are not part of the electrical trade and have a different set of skills and qualifications from the electricians that work on building wiring.
In the film industry and on a television crew the head electrician is referred to as a Gaffer.
Electrical contractors are businesses that employ electricians to design, install, and maintain electrical systems. Contractors are responsible for generating bids for new jobs, hiring tradespeople for the job, providing material to electricians in a timely manner, and communicating with architects, electrical and building engineers, and the customer to plan and complete the finished product.
Training and regulation of trade
Many jurisdictions have regulatory restrictions concerning electrical work for safety reasons due to the many hazards of working with electricity. Such requirements may be testing, registration or licensing. Licensing requirements vary between jurisdictions.
An electrician's license entitles the holder to carry out all types of electrical installation work in Australia without supervision. However, to contract, or offer to contract, to carry out electrical installation work, a licensed electrician must also be registered as an electrical contractor. Under Australian law, electrical work that involves fixed wiring is strictly regulated and must almost always be performed by a licensed electrician or electrical contractor. A local electrician can handle a range of work including air conditioning, light fittings and installation, safety switches, smoke alarm installation, inspection and certification and testing and tagging of electrical appliances.
To provide data, structured cabling systems, home automation & theatre, LAN, WAN and VPN data solutions or phone points, an installer must be licensed as a Telecommunications Cable Provider under a scheme controlled by Australian Communications and Media Authority
Electrical licensing in Australia is regulated by the individual states. In Western Australia the Department of Commerce tracks licensee's and allows the public to search for individually named/licensed Electricians.
Currently in Victoria the apprenticeship last for four years, during three of those years the apprentice attends trade school in either a block release of one week each month or one day each week. At the end of the apprenticeship the apprentice is required to pass three examinations, one of which is theory based with the other two practically based. Upon successful completion of these exams, providing all other components of the apprenticeship are satisfactory, the apprentice is granted an A Class licence on application to Energy Safe Victoria (ESV).
An A Class electrician may perform work unsupervised but is unable to work for profit or gain without having the further qualifications necessary to become a Registered Electrical Contractor (REC) or being in the employment of a person holding REC status. However, some exemptions do exist.
In most cases a certificate of electrical safety must be submitted to the relevant body after any electrical works are performed.
Safety equipment used and worn by electricians in Australia (including insulated rubber gloves and mats) needs to be tested regularly to ensure it is still protecting the worker. Because of the high risk involved in this trade, this testing needs performed regularly and regulations vary according to state. Industry best practice is the Queensland Electrical Safety Act 2002, and requires six-monthly testing.
Training of electricians follows an apprenticeship model, taking four or five years to progress to fully qualified journeyman level. Typical apprenticeship programs consists of 80-90% hands-on work under the supervision of journeymen and 10-20% classroom training. Training and licensing of electricians is regulated by each province, however professional licenses are valid throughout Canada under Agreement on Internal Trade. An endorsement under the Red Seal Program provides additional competency assurance to industry standards. In order for individuals to become a licensed electricians, they need to have 9000 hours of practical, on the job training. They also need to attend school for 4 terms and pass a provincial exam. This training enables them to become journeyman electricians. Furthermore, in British Columbia, an individual can go a step beyond that and become a “FSR”, or field safety representative. This credential gives the ability to become a licensed electrical contractor and to pull permits. Notwithstanding this, some Canadian provinces only grant "permit pulling privileges" to current Master Electricians, that is, a journeyman who has been engaged in the industry for three (3) years AND has passed the Master's examination (i.e. Alberta). The various levels of field safety representatives are A,B and C. The only difference between each class is that they are able to do increasingly higher voltage and current work.
Competency standards in the UK are defined by the Sector Skills council Summit Skills. Qualifications certificated by awarding organisations such as City and Guilds and EAL are based on these National Occupational Standards. Once qualified and demonstrating the required level of competence an Electrician can register with the JIB (Joint industry Board) for an Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) card. Electrical competence is required at Level 3 to practice as an electrician in the UK. The electrical industry is one of the few that require a trade test to be achieved prior to being fully qualified. This is known as the AM2.
Electricians can demonstrate further competence by studying further qualifications in Design and Verification of Electrical Installations or in the Test and Inspection of Electrical Installations. These qualifications can be listed on the reverse of the JIB card.
The Electricity at Work Regulations are the statutory document that covers electrical installations. Further information is provided in the non-statutory document BS7671 - Requirements for Electrical Installations otherwise known as the Wiring Regulations currently (2013) in their 17th Edition. Installations that comply with BS7671 are deemed to have met the EAWR. Electrical Installation in domestic properties is governed by Part P of the Building Regulations and electricians have to register certain aspects of their work in domestic properties with the local building control authority.
With the exception of the work described in Part P of the Building Regulations there are no laws that prevent anyone from carrying out electrical work in the UK. A possible result of this is that during 2010/11 and in 2011/12 there were 3,822 domestic electrical fires in Great Britain, resulting in 14 deaths. Organisations such as the Electrical Safety Council are working hard to educate the public not to use electricians who are not fully qualified or competent and to check the ElectricSafe register to ensure an Electrician has been deemed competent.
The United States does not offer nationwide licensing and electrical licenses are issued by individual states. There are variations in licensing requirements, however, all states recognize three basic skill categories: level electricians. Journeyman electricians can work unsupervised provided that they work according to a master's direction. Generally, states do not offer journeyman permits, and journeyman electricians and other apprentices can only work under permits issued to a master. Apprentices may not work without direct supervision.
Before electricians can work unsupervised, they are usually required to serve an apprenticeship lasting from 3 to 5 years under the general supervision of a Master Electrician and usually the direct supervision of a Journeyman Electrician. Schooling in electrical theory and electrical building codes is required to complete the apprenticeship program. Many apprenticeship programs provide a salary to the apprentice during training. A Journeyman electrician is a classification of licensing granted to those who have met the experience requirements for on the job training (usually 4000 to 6000 hours) and classroom hours (about 144 hours). Requirements include completion of two to six years of apprenticeship training, and passing a licensing exam.}.
An electrician's license is valid for work in the state where the license was issued. In addition, many states recognize licenses from other states, sometimes called interstate reciprocity participation, although there can be conditions imposed. For example, California reciprocates with Arizona, Nevada, and Utah on the condition that licenses are in good standing and have been held at the other state for five years. Nevada reciprocates with Arizona, California, and Utah. Maine reciprocates with New Hampshire and Vermont at the master level, and the state reciprocates with New Hampshire, North Dakota, Idaho, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming at the journeyman level.
Electricians use a range of hand and power tools and instruments.
Some of the more common tools are:
- Conduit Bender: Bender used to bend various types of Electrical Conduit. These come in many variations including hand, electrical, and hydraulic powered.
- Non-Contact Voltage Testers
- Lineman's Pliers: Heavy-duty pliers for general use in cutting, bending, crimping and pulling wire.
- Diagonal Pliers (also known as side cutters or Dikes): Pliers consisting of cutting blades for use on smaller gauge wires, but sometimes also used as a gripping tool for removal of nails and staples.
- Needle-Nose Pliers: Pliers with a long, tapered gripping nose of various size, with or without cutters, generally smaller and for finer work (including very small tools used in electronics wiring).
- Wire Strippers: Plier-like tool available in many sizes and designs featuring special blades to cut and strip wire insulation while leaving the conductor wire intact and without nicks. Some wire strippers include cable strippers among their multiple functions, for removing the outer cable jacket.
- Cable Cutters: Highly leveraged pliers for cutting larger cable.
- Armored Cable Cutters: Commonly referred to by the trademark 'Roto-Split®' , is a tool used to cut the metal sleeve on MC (Metal Clad) cable.
- Multimeter: An instrument for electrical measurement with multiple functions. It is available as analog or digital display. Common features include: voltage, resistance, and current. Some models offer additional functions.
- Unibit or Step-Bit: A metal-cutting drill bit with stepped-diameter cutting edges to enable convenient drilling holes in preset increments in stamped/rolled metal up to about 1.6mm (1/16 inch) thick. Commonly used to create custom knock-outs in a breaker panel or junction box.
- Cord, Rope or Fish Tape. Used to manipulate cables and wires through cavities. The fishing tool is pushed, dropped, or shot into the installed raceway, stud-bay or joist-bay of a finished wall or in a floor or ceiling. Then the wire or cable is attached and pulled back.
- Crimping Tools: Used to apply terminals or splices. These may be hand or hydraulic powered. Some hand tools have ratchets to insure proper pressure. Hydraulic units achieve cold welding, even for aluminum cable.
- Insulation Resistance Tester: Commonly referred to as a Megger, these testers apply several hundred to several thousand volts to cables and equipment to determine the insulation resistance value.
- Knockout Punch: For punching holes into boxes, panels, switchgear, etc. for inserting cable & pipe connectors.
- GFI/GFCI Testers: Used to test the functionality of Ground-Fault Interrupting receptacles.
- Voltmeter: An electrician's tool used to measure electrical potential difference between two points in an electric circuit.
- Other general-use tools include screwdrivers, hammers, reciprocating saws, drywall saws, flashlights, chisels, tongue and groove pliers (Commonly referred to as 'Channellock®' pliers, a famous manufacturer of this tool) and drills.
See also: Occupational safety and health
In addition to the workplace hazards generally faced by industrial workers, electricians are also particularly exposed to injury by electricity. An electrician may experience electric shock due to direct contact with energized circuit conductors or due to stray voltage caused by faults in a system. An electric arc exposes eyes and skin to hazardous amounts of heat and light. Faulty switchgear may cause an arc flash incident with a resultant blast. Electricians are trained to work safely and take many measures to minimize the danger of injury. Lockout and tagout procedures are used to make sure that circuits are proven to be de-energized before work is done. Limits of approach to energized equipment protect against arc flash exposure; specially designed flash-resistant clothing provides additional protection; grounding (earthing) clamps and chains are used on line conductors to provide a visible assurance that a conductor is de-energized. Personal protective equipment provides electrical insulation as well as protection from mechanical impact; gloves have insulating rubber liners, and work boots and hard hats are specially rated to provide protection from shock. If a system cannot be de-energized, insulated tools are used; even high-voltage transmission lines can be repaired while energized, when necessary.
Electrical workers, which includes electricians, accounted for 34% of total electrocutions of construction trades workers in the United States between 1992–2003.
Working conditions for electricians vary by specialization. Generally an electrician's work is physically demanding such as climbing ladders and lifting tools and supplies. Occasionally an electrician must work in a cramped space or on scaffolding, and may frequently be bending, squatting or kneeling, to make connections in awkward locations. Construction electricians may spend much of their days in outdoor or semi-outdoor loud and dirty work sites. Industrial electricians may be exposed to the heat, dust, and noise of an industrial plant. Power systems electricians may be called to work in all kinds of adverse weather to make emergency repairs.
Some electricians are union members and work under their union's policies.
Electricians can choose to be represented by the Electrical Trade Union (ETU). Electrical Contractors can be represented by the National Electrical & Communications Association or Master Electricians Australia.
Some electricians are union members. Some examples of electricians' unions include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers provides its own apprenticeships through its National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee and the National Electrical Contractors Association. Many merit shop training and apprenticeship programs also exist, including those offered by such as trade associations as Associated Builders and Contractors and Independent Electrical Contractors. These organizations provide comprehensive training, in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor regulations.
In England, electricians are represented by several unions including Unite the Union
In the Republic of Ireland there are two self-regulation/self certification bodies RECI Register of Electrical Contractors of Ireland and ECSSA.
An auto electrician is a tradesman specializing in electrical wiring of motor vehicles. Auto electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical components. Auto electricians specialize in cars and commercial vehicles.
This program describes the procedures and personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and auxiliary organizations employees from electrical shock and/or arc flash (NFPA 70) when working on or near electrically energized equipment.
- Purpose: Ensure procedures and equipment are in place and available to provide protection from electrical shock and / or arc flash when working on or near electrically energized equipment.
- Scope: The requirements of this document apply to all CSUN employees and employees of CSUN auxiliary organizations.
- Energized Electrical Work – Work on equipment that has not been de-energized
- Exposed Fixed Circuit Part – Means that the bare conductor or other circuit part is stationary and will not move. This is the most common Limited Approach Boundary value used.
- Exposed Movable Conductor – Means that the bare conductor can move (e.g., an overhead transmission line conductor).
- Flash Hazard Analysis – Determination of the Flash Protection Boundary (SF 9005.01) and the Person Protective Equipment (SF 9005.02) that personnel working within the boundary shall use.
- Flash Protection Boundary –a distance from exposed live parts within which a person could receive a second degree burn if an electrical arc flash were to occur.
- At voltage levels above 600 volts the Flash Protection Boundary is physical limits of the equipment room, inside of which ALL personnel shall be protected.
- At voltage levels of 600 volts and less the Flash Protection Boundary shall be 4.0 feet
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) - a United States trade association that creates and maintains private, copyrighted, standards and codes for usage and adoption by local governments.
- Person Protective Equipment (PPE) – equipment designed to protect an individual from serious injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other hazards.
- Qualified Person – One who has skill and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installation and who has received safety training on the hazards involved. (SF 9005.07)
- Shock Hazard – a dangerous condition associated with the possible release of energy caused by contact or approach to live parts.
- Shock Hazard Analysis – Determination of the voltage to which personnel will be exposed, boundary requirements and the personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to minimize the possibility of electric shock. (SF 9005.02)
- Shock Protection Boundaries – Identified as Limited, Restricted and Prohibited and are applicable to the situation in which approaching personnel are exposed to live parts. (SF 9005.01) (NFPA 70E Table 130.2(C))
- Limited Approach Boundary –a distance from an exposed live part within which a shock hazard exists.
- Restricted Approach Boundary –a distance from an exposed live part, within which there is an increased risk of shock due to electrical arc, for personnel working in close proximity to the live part.
- Prohibited Approach Boundary –a distance from and exposed live part within which work is considered the same as making contact with the live part.
- Exemptions fro the Energized Electrical Work Program - none
- Exemptions from Energized Electrical Work Permit:
- Qualified persons conducting tasks such as: testing, trouble shooting and voltage measuring (typically diagnostic work) may use Alternate Energized Work Procedures including the utilization of Flash Hazard analysis, safe work practices and with the appropriate PPE.
- Colleges, Departments and Auxiliary Organizations
- Responsibilities are the same as Employees, Physical Plant Management (PPM) / Electric Shop, Purchasing and Facilities Planning and Contractors or their equivalent in your organizational structure
- Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)
- Establish and update the written Energized Electrical Work Program
- Provide consultation and training to departments who fall within the Program
- Assist departments in determining how the program applies to their areas.
- Physical Plant Management (PPM) / Electric Shop
- Following the Energized Work program and notifying their Supervisor of any unsafe conditions or issues of non-compliance to the program.
- Purchasing and Facilities Planning
- Ensure Electrical Contractors and those contractors who maybe working near energized equipment have a National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA 70E) Electrical Safety in the Workplace compliant program.
- Electrical Contractors
- Prior to initiating any work on the CSUN electrical infrastructure and every time work will be performed on electrically energized equipment the Contractor and PPM (Electric Shop) will conduct an in person “Job Briefing” to review the job and ensure NFPA 70E compliant procedures are in place.
- Physical Plant Management Employees
- PPM employees, excluding office and administration shall receive a basic awareness level training on the Energized Electrical program. The awareness training provide an overview of the Energized Electrical program.
- Qualified Person
- Employee must have the following training and skills to be considered a Qualified Person
- California Department of Industrial Relations Apprentice Electrician
- Other State apprentice electrician program recognized by the State of California and PPM
- CSUN Electrician Requirements
- National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 70E - Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace
- Electrical Safety Orders - CCR Title 8, Division 1, Chapter 4, Sub-chapter 5: Electrical Safety Orders
- CSUN SP 2002 - Lock Out / Tag Out Program
- Personal Protective Equipment
- NFPA 70E Article 130.7
- CFR 29, 1915 Subpart I, Personal Protective Equipment
CSUN’s energized work program is designed to provide a safe work environment for employees who work on electrically energized equipment, employees who are in the immediate area assisting those working on energized equipment and employees who may be in the general vicinity where energized work is being conducted.
- The two main hazards of energized electrical work are electrical shocks and arc flashes. These hazards are primarily managed through administrative controls that specify:
- safe distances,
- protection boundaries and
- personal protective equipment (PPE) when working on electrically energized equipment.
- ENERGIZED WORK PERMIT – Section Descriptions
Section 1 - Description and Justification for Energized Work
- Written justification when an employee may be exposed to live or energized parts greater than 50 volts to ground.
Section 2 - Equipment Information
- Description of the specific equipment, (including common name, other designations equipment numbering, manufacturer’s name and model, etc.), location, operating voltage and from where the power is fed.
Section 3 - Flash Hazard Analysis
- Voltage is the criteria used to determine the Flash Protection Boundary inside of which personnel could receive second degree burns in the event of an arc flash
- 600 volts and less the Flash Protection Boundary shall be 4.0 feet
- voltage levels above 600 volts the Flash Protection Boundary is physical limits of the equipment room
Section 4 – Shock Hazard Analysis (Voltage, Boundaries & PPE)
- Electrical Energy - Voltage is the criteria used criteria to determine the shock protection boundaries and areas they define.
- Shock Protection boundaries and areas (SF 9005.01 Shock Protection Boundaries)
- Limited – unqualified personnel boundary, no PPE
- Restricted – area of increased risk to qualified personnel, PPE required
- Prohibited – equivalent to contact with exposed part, PPE required
Section 5 – Protective Clothing & Equipment for Hazard/Risk Categories
- Combination of voltage and the type of energized task(s) are used to assign hazard and risk classifications for the tasks. The PPE to be used within the Flash Protection boundary and within the shock hazard restricted and prohibited areas is determined by a numbered protective system for a given hazard / risk classification and listed in SF 9005.04 PPE Protective Hazard System.
- Tools to be used within the Flash Protection boundary and within the shock hazard restricted and prohibited areas are determined by the hazard / risk classification and listed in SF 9005.02 Hazard / Risk Classification.
Section 6 –Approvals & Agreements to Perform Energized Work
- The Director of Engineering Services, Assistant Director of Engineering Services (electrical) and the Electric Shop Supervisor, must approve the Energized Work Permit in writing BEFORE any work on energized equipment may begin.
- In addition, all Electrically Qualified Person(s) who are working on or assisting in the project must sign the Energized Work Permit as acceptance of the permit requirements.
- Approval of Work
- All activities that may involve exposure to energized systems or equipment shall be reviewed and approved by Physical Plant Management’s Engineering Services Department
- Activities which require exposure to energized systems shall be conducted only after less hazardous alternatives have been considered. Alternatives include, but are not limited to:
- Not performing the work on the energized system
- De-energizing the system through a shut down
- De-energizing the system through the use of lock out / tag out methods
- Energized Work Permit
- Energized Work Procedures
- Equipment with less than 50 volts to ground and less than 5 mA may be serviced energized by Qualified Employees at the discretion of the Electric Shop.
- Description and Justification for the Energized Electrical Work
- Describe the work that will be done and the reasons and justification why this work cannot be done with the equipment de-energized.
- Equipment Information
- Determine the equipment name, identification and location including building name and room number.
- Description of the circuit and from where the power is fed
- Flash Hazard Analysis
- Identify the Fault Clearing Device, the manufacturer’s model and the clearing time in seconds
- Establish the Flash Protection boundaries as listed in form SF 9005.01, Flash Protection Boundaries
- Shock Hazard Analysis
- Refer to Hazard / Risk Classification SF 9005.02 and look for the type of task and the voltage for the job. Once this is identified the columns on the right will provide the hazard / risk level and if voltage rated gloves and tools are required.
- Using this hazard / risk level refer to Hazard / Risk Category vs. PPE form, SF 9005.04. The PPE required will be marked in the hazard / risk category column(s)
- PPE and Tools
- Examine all PPE equipment, specialty and voltage rated tools to ensure they are in good condition and the inspections and certifications are current.
- Energized Electrical Work Permit
- Contact the PPM Electric Shop and complete sections 1-4 of the Energized Electrical Work Permit with either the Electric Shop Supervisor or Lead.
- Review the Energized Electrical Work Permit with everyone who will be on the job and have each person print and sign their names in Section 5 of the Energized Electrical Work Permit
- At the work site place the barriers noted in Section 3 of the Energized Electrical Work Permit .
- Prior to starting the job contact the Engineer Services and request the Director of Engineering Services to go to the job site to review and approve the Energized Electrical Work Permit.
IX. Related Documents/References
X. Revision Record
Establishes Initial Procedure
Format Change and update