Current News from NASA’s Electrical Safety Working Group

Current News from NASA’s Electrical Safety Working Group

2-minute read
Working Groups: Electrical Safety

NASA's Electrical Safety Working Group (NESWG), chaired by Cheevon "Mi-Mi" Lau, held its annual face-to-face meeting at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 11-13, 2014. Representatives from around the agency discussed electrical issues and shared advice with each other.

The meeting focused on electrical safety topics with the goal of sharing ideas, solutions and best practices to address center and agency concerns. Members used their time together to discuss more controversial and complex topics than those covered during the group's regular telecoms and also to define key topic areas for the remainder of the year.

"Everybody offered information," said Bob Cross, the group's technical lead. "There was a lot of participation and a lot of interest."

Meeting Highlights

Group Photo

NESWG Members Gather for a
Group Photo

Arc flash labeling was a major topic of discussion. Centers are in the process of updating arc flash labels to meet requirements set forth by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E. Ensuring the requirements are met is a significant undertaking and centers want to ensure proper compliance.

"The standard changes substantially every three years and the centers are challenged in keeping up with those changes," explained Vanessa Pellegrino, occupational safety subject matter expert with Alphaport, Inc. at the NASA Safety Center (NSC), a guest at this year's meeting.

Another major topic of discussion was center Lockout/Tagout (LO/TO) programs. Members shared how they validate compliance with LO/TO requirements each year at their center and discussed lock identification.

Over the three-day period, the group also touched on extension cord fabrications, electrical work permits, utility power distribution and confined space entry. Members left with information that will help bolster their center's processes, including a Best Practice on extension cord fabrication from Langley Research Center.

NESWG meets every quarter for approximately two hours. The group, founded in 2011, promotes electrical safety at NASA centers and component facilities including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Members include center representatives who were nominated by their center directors.

NESWG is tasked with developing agency-wide plans and strategies to address electrical safety concerns and issues stemming from NSC audits and center requests. The group also shares Best Practices identified through the audits to promote lessons learned from across the centers.

NESWG often reviews electrical safety issues that turned up during audits and develops plans for addressing these issues. This activity guides citations in future audits and helps auditors by providing criteria for noncompliances, critical noncompliances and catastrophic noncompliances. To date, the group has discussed 12 case studies and implemented the results in the 5-points checklist used by auditors and referenced by centers. These results enable consistent categorization of the audit findings regardless of the auditor. The information also clarifies to the centers the category assigned to the audit finding and helps them prepare for the audit.

The group's next meeting is scheduled for April 2014. Members tentatively plan to discuss change management, microgrids, LO/TO, processes for adopting codes and standards, and alternative energy sources, among other topics.