Every electrician knows that you shouldn’t work on live circuits. However, the OSHA has exceptions to this rule, that is to say, situations where you can work on a live circuit, but only if it is absolutely necessary.
Who Is Considered A Hot Electrician?
Hot electricians are the ones who can work on devices and circuits without de-energizing them.
When a contractor is hired to resolve a particular electrical problem, they are expected to switch the power off before they begin their work. A live circuit can electrocute careless contractors. Even if they have the necessary personal protective equipment, according to Elcosh, the flash from the arcing that can occur is more than capable of permanently damaging the contractor’s eyes.
This is why electricians always de-energize circuits before they proceed. However, some electricians work on energized circuits, not because they forgot to turn the power off, but because the situation at hand requires them to do their work while the power is still on.
There are scenarios where turning the power off will create a bigger hazard than keeping it on. You also have cases where the client cannot afford an interruption in their power supply. In such situations, you need an electrician that can work on devices and circuits without de-energizing them.
In theory, anyone can do electrical hot work if they have the skills and licenses. You will be hard-pressed to find a firm whose electricians work solely on energized circuits and equipment. You can make do with any contractor that has the relevant skills.
Though, the experience is very important. Contractors that do not have any experience with energized circuits are more likely to make a mistake, which is why you should avoid them. Look for professionals that have worked on multiple projects that involved energized circuits and devices.
How To Tell If An Electrician Is Hot or Not?
You can look at their credentials. Qualified contractors have to pass the CESW (Certified Electrical Safety Worker) Certification program to prove that they understand NFPA 70E electrical safety standards.
An accredited electrician knows what the law has to say about energized circuits. They know when electrical hot work is permitted and when it is not. You can trust them to guide you on the best way to perform a particular task without breaking the law.
It is worth noting that an electrician needs a hot work permit like the one found on this NFPA page before they can do hot work. The permit is only valid for the period that it will take the contractor to do his work.
From what CHAS has seen, the document details the type of work that has to be done and the precautions the client will take to protect the contractor.
If you can get a hot work permit, any licensed and experienced contractor you have chosen can do the hot work in question.
Hot-Electrician Pros and Cons
Even though electrical hot work is dangerous, it persists because it benefits situations where shutting the power off would create even more problems. For instance, you cannot shut the power to a hospital off without killing those patients that depend on medical devices to live.
In many cases, the contractors hired to solve a problem at a hospital know that they have to work on energized circuits.
Electrical Contractor has also identified situations where shutting off the power to a hot glue machine would cause the glue to set. Some industrial settings use machines that would take hours to start if you switched them off.
You also have locations with hazardous materials whose ventilation systems require a constant power supply to protect the people working within those settings. The pros of energized work are difficult to deny. This is why hot work permits are still available even though such projects are so dangerous.
Some people are still lobbying large corporations to phase out hot work. According to DCD, several voices in the data center industry have started campaigning against the habit of using electricians to work on energized circuits. Many data centers argue that the downtime caused by a power shutdown is not only inconvenient but financially costly.
However, opponents of hot work have made the opposite argument. Even though experienced contractors can take steps to protect themselves from electrocution (by wearing protective equipment), opponents of hot work believe that a contractor’s attempt to work on an energized circuit can generate an arc flash that will damage the expensive equipment in the data center, costing the owners thousands of dollars, if not more.
This is the reason why hot work is so risky.
Even if you protect the electrician, you cannot guarantee the safety of the equipment.
Where Should I Find Hot-Electricians?
You are unlikely to find an electrician that specifically does hot work. Instead, you should focus your efforts on locating a licensed contractor that has hot work experience. You can use the following avenues to find qualified candidates:
Talk to the contractors in your area. That includes builders and plumbers. More than likely, they have worked with qualified electricians in the past and they can make some trustworthy recommendations.
2). Social Network
Talk to your friends, family, and workmates. Ask them to recommend electricians that have worked for them in the past.
Many contractors are drawn to local associations because they offer legal support as well as financial and networking opportunities. A simple Google search will show you all the associations in your area. Look for an association that has a strong reputation. Send them an email. They will sift through their members to identify a contractor that can do electrical hot work.
Use Google to search for electricians that can do hot work. The internet will highlight all the suitable candidates in your area. You can also use the internet to check the qualifications of each candidate.
5). Social Media
Many professional electricians have social media accounts because they know that a lot of people use social media to find contractors these days. Like Google, you can use social media to search for hot electricians in your area.
The Average Cost of Hot-Electricians
Because hot electricians are no different from ordinary, licensed electricians, their rates won’t vary that drastically. In other words, you can expect to spend anywhere between $50 and $100 an hour.