Should You Open Energized Panel Covers?

Electrical panel inspection working personnel

The practice of removing energized switchboard and panelboard covers when performing annual/quarterly/monthly maintenance has become a common place. De-energization cannot be stressed enough before all types of maintenance work on electrical equipment can be initiated. This is rarely due to the fact that the personnel are inexperienced or non-qualified for the job, but instead it’s usually because of following the traditional method without question.

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Regulatory Requirements​

The occupational safety and health administration talks about the importance of de-energization and the conditions under which energized work can be performed.

The regulatory requirements are discussed intensively here for the safety of both personnel and equipment.

Exceptions

There are certain exceptions defined for performing live work while taking off the protective covers of panel boards for visual inspection.

Even after considering exceptions, it is still generally not recommended to open energized panels through the removal of covers due to the risk involved

Solutions​

Some steps are necessary to ensure effective de-energization and isolation which in turn would provide increased electrical safety for the personnel.

With so much at risk, the efforts required to de-energize the equipment before opening the covers should be given top priority. An effective way is to use Infra-red windows which can allow the thermography to be performed without removal of the covers, effectively preventing any arc flash hazard from occurring to the working personnel. Additionally, the equipment within the covers should be visually inspected to identify and eliminate the risks involved.

Let us know if you have any queries regarding this topic and do provide us with your feedback in the comments.

About The Author

Abdur Rehman is a professional electrical engineer with more than eight years of experience working with equipment from 208V to 115kV in both the Utility and Industrial & Commercial space. He has a particular focus on Power Systems Protection & Engineering Studies.

Abdur Rehman is the CEO and co-founder of allumiax.com and creator of GeneralPAC by AllumiaX. He has been actively involved in various roles in the IEEE Seattle Section, IEEE PES Seattle, IEEE Region 6, and IEEE MGA.

Leaders in Industrial & Commercial Power Systems Engineering