Failing to have a true understanding of the National Electric Code can result in an expensive OSHA fine.
A common code violation we see during electrical inspections and routine electrical maintenance is an improper covering for an unused opening. The National Electric Code states:
Section 408.7 Unused Openings: Where an unused opening exists, it must be closed to prevent contact with energized conductors or circuit parts.
The NEC further states that there are only two correct ways to fill an unused opening in a panelboard; an identified blank from the manufacturer or the more effective option which is to install a spare circuit breaker. This means that using anything else will cost you a serious OSHA fine. Below is a repair completed in accordance with the NEC.
110.12(A) Unused openings, other than those intended for the operation of equipment, those intended for mounting purposes, or those permitted as part of the design for listed equipment, shall be closed to afford protection substantially equivalent to the wall of the equipment. Where metallic plugs or plates are used with nonmetallic enclosures, they shall be recessed at least 6 mm (¼ in.) from the outer surface of the enclosure.
With many changes to your EDS and with many hands in panelboards over time, not maintaining the integrity of the panels is common. As of January 2018, the penalty for a serious OSHA violation is $12,934 and that penalty increases to $129,336 if found again as a ‘repeat or willful’ violation during the next 5 years. More importantly, an employee may suffer an injury as a result of improper covering.
Avoid costly fines and assure your employees’ safety by hiring experienced, knowledgeable, and licensed electricians who conduct visual inspections for these code and safety issues during infrared and other predictive protocols.”