Threat Handle Hierarchy Refines Electrical Security

In the late 1880s, a young boy was electrocuted when he accidentally touched an unlabeled, energized telegraph wire. That incident ignited an inventor by the name of Harold Pitney Brown to make an impassioned plea in a New York Post editorial to limit telegraph transmissions to what he thought of a safer level of 300 Volts.

Possibly Harold believed that limiting electrical transmissions to levels of 300 Volts or significantly less would present immediate electrical security. With more than 120 years of hindsight, we view factors substantially differently currently. But, Harold stumbled across two vital ideas. The notion of “300 Volts” is a technical discussion about the laws of electrical power (Ohm’s Law, and so forth) that lends understanding to how electrical power can kill or maim. On the other hand, the term “secure” reflects a functioning expertise of the basic principles of security. Our challenge is to combine our technical understanding of electrical energy with the principles of security to make certain electrical security is each sensible and helpful. The much better we realize each ideas the higher the likelihood we will have to increase the status quo. The Threat Handle Hierarchy (RCH) does an exceptional job in blending these two important ideas.

Threat Handle Hierarchy

The heartbeat of security is the Threat Handle Hierarchy (RCH), which is located in Appendix G of the ANSI Z10 Common. The RCH assists us prioritize security initiatives from least helpful to most helpful. For instance, will you be safer wearing a helmet whilst riding a motorcycle or by promoting it altogether? Of course, promoting the motorcycle eliminates the danger of an accident, whilst wearing a helmet provides protection to your head from the danger of a head injury through an accident. The RCH operates by assisting us rank danger reduction measures from most helpful to least helpful as per beneath:

1.) Eliminating the danger.
2.) Substituting a lesser danger.
3.) Engineering about danger.
4.) Awareness of each and every danger.
5.) Administrate and regulate behavior about danger.
6.) Shield workers whilst exposed to danger.

Note that every single step above is equally vital, but not equally helpful in safeguarding workers. Eliminating a danger is the most helpful way to retain workers secure whilst protection from a danger by making use of Private Protection Gear (PPE) is least helpful. There have been excellent improvements in the design and style of PPE, but its key goal is maintaining workers alive – not 100% secure.

Security and Threat

Threat, which is defined as exposure to a hazard, is two-pronged. There is the probability of exposure and severity of prospective injury. For instance, a 120V outlet is a higher danger than a 13.8KV switchgear line-up simply because far more persons are exposed to the 120V outlet. Given that danger is exposure to hazards, then security is the reduction and management of danger. The management duty of an electrical security system commonly falls to an electrical engineer simply because he or she understands electrical energy. In our modern day globe we can under no circumstances remove the danger, but are really great at locating new methods to cut down danger.

A further way to appear at danger is the chart (Figure two) created by Ray Jones which shows the partnership in between the worker and the security infrastructure above him. A worker performing tasks should make quite a few complicated and particular the choices that influence his security. In the case of electrical security, power isolation is really private for electricians facing deadly electrical power each and every time they open a panel. By the time they touch electrical energy, it is as well late.

Zero Power Verification–Is There Voltage?

Electrical accidents are not possible with no electrical power. If an electrician comes into direct get in touch with with electrical power, there is a five% fatality price. Shocks and burns comprise the remaining 95%. The NFPA 70e is really particular on how to isolate electrical power. Very first, all voltage sources should be positioned and labeled. Many voltage sources are commonplace currently due to the proliferation of back-up generators and UPS’s. Subsequent, voltage testing devices should be validated making use of the Reside-DEAD-Reside process. Moreover, the voltage tester should also physically get in touch with the voltage and should confirm every single phase voltage to ground.

The RCH and Electrical Security

How does the RCH apply to electrical security?
1. Elimination -Removing all electrical power exposure.
2. Substitution -Lowering the electrical power exposure.
3. Engineering Controls -Reinventing methods to handle electrical power exposure.
4. Awareness -Revealing and labeling all sources of electrical power.
5. Administrative Controls -Regulations that teach personnel security about electrical power.
6. Private Protection -Lowering dangers of functioning on reside voltage.

Electrical workers are exposed to the greatest dangers at the reduced levels of the RCH. Recognizing that these ‘residual risks’ are present the NFPA 70e tells workers how to execute their operate safely in spite of these dangers. In truth a substantial portion of the NFPA 70e facts how to finest handle these dangers by means of Awareness, Administration, and Private Protection. On the other hand, the greatest chance for danger reduction comes by focusing in the upper component of the RCH. Big improvements in electrical security will come by Eliminating Substituting, and Engineering options that handle electrical power exposure.
The Division of Power (DOE)

For much better insight into the RCH approach, let’s appear at a 2005 Division of Power report on their electrical security record. This report cited six motives for their 14.1 electrical incidents per month.
Inside this DOE report, “hazard identification” [Table 1] stood out as an administrative handle concern resulting in a lot of electrical incidents. The option was to get tougher administrators or appear for improvements greater up in the RCH. Suitable above Administrative Controls (see Figure 1) we find out that escalating employee’s awareness of electrical hazards will cut down these sorts of incidents. A prospective option is to label and mark all voltage sources (hazards) feeding the electrical method. Voltage indicators and voltage portals wired to every single voltage supply offers two added benefits: It identifies the voltage supply and offers a signifies to verify the status of that voltage supply with no exposure to voltage. Apply the identical approach to “LO/TO violations”.


ADMINISTRATIVE Appropriately administrating NFPA 70e calls for all electrical enclosures to have warning labels with incident power level (calories). AWARENESS /ELIMINATION Marking all power sources on the panel exterior offers personnel with very simple but secure hazard identification.

LO/TO violations like shortcuts or lack of power verification

ADMINISTRATIVE Can the LO/TO process be rewritten to cut down exposure to voltage?

ELIMINATION /SUBSTITUTION Thru-door voltage pre-checking ‘eliminates’ all exposure to voltage for mechanical LO/TO* and present important danger reduction for Electrical LO/TO.

Lowering electrical power to Cat /1 will significantly cut down the prospective arc flash power SUBSTITUTION Lowering the arc flash power efficiently ‘substitutes’ for a reduced danger for a greater danger.

Elimination: The Hall of Fame of Security

We can enter the Electrical Security Hall of Fame by locating methods to remove voltage exposure. Right here are a couple of sensible examples that can be implemented currently:
o Mechanical Lock-out Tag-out [LOTO]: LOTO procedures requiring electricians to confirm zero power just before performing mechanical upkeep needlessly exposes workers to voltage. Given that all voltages do not produce mechanical motion, by means of-door voltage checking devices as component of a mechanical LOTO process will remove voltage exposure (see Appendix B).
o Why open a handle panel? What upkeep functions can be moved to the outdoors of the panel? Thru-door information access ports are becoming commonplace simply because they enable programming with the panel door closed (Figure three). A far more current instance is an unmanaged Ethernet switch mounted outdoors the panel. This one of a kind device permits complete by means of-door access for a worker to troubleshoot and reset the Ethernet switch (Figure four). What other devices can be re-engineered about by means of-door electrical security? Possibly placing particular branch circuit breakers on the outdoors of the panel is a great application?
o Handle Panel Design and style: Supply a physical separation in between the energy and handle compartments inside an enclosure could turn out to be a regular. Voltages beneath 50 volts are thought of secure, so lowering the handle energy to 24VDC tends to make the handle energy section secure to operate on whilst it is energized.
These above examples are only ‘scratching the surface’, so I challenge you to discover methods to remove voltage exposure.


When security operates completely, practically nothing takes place! When there is an incident or a close get in touch with the RCH really should be an inspiration to discover a much better way. By applying the RCH principles to electrical security dangers, it will open our eyes to see far more sensible methods to cut down these dangers. Possibly, we would expend far more sources locating electrical security options that will present each greater security and productivity dividends.