Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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Further Enhancements to WECA Apprenticeship Safety Curriculum

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

WECA’s Apprenticeship Curriculum Development team has recently worked on three enhanced and redesigned lessons that built on prior safety lessons to take WECA’s prioritization of safety in its curriculum to new heights.

“Safety training is one of our top concerns at WECA – especially electrical safety, given the nature of our apprentices’ work,” says Tom Thompson, WECA’s Curriculum Development Manager. “This is why we have been continuously enriching the electrical safety content throughout our Commercial and Residential Electrical Apprenticeship programs. We are now in the process of integrating several new and improved lessons that focus on the practical application of NFPA 70E standards and processes.”

Tom credits Joshua Simpson, WECA’s newest addition to our Apprenticeship Curriculum Development team, with further enhancing our safety trainings around key safety procedures and processes as outlined in NFPA 70E.

“It’s our belief that thorough and practical safety training leads to fewer incidents and accidents. By improving our already comprehensive safety content, we sleep better at night knowing that we are doing our utmost to serve students,” says Tom. “By strengthening our safety content, we are doing our part to look out for them by ensuring that they have every tool we can give them, so they can go home and be with their families at the end of every workday.”

Topics expanded upon in the recent electrical safety content enrichment include an overview of NFPA 70E and instructions on how to recognize and protect against electrical hazards for novice, intermediate, and advanced apprentices; how to establish designated boundaries around energized work zones; how to interpret and conduct an electrical hazard risk assessment; how to select appropriate PPE for specific electrical risks, and how to recognize an arc flash hazard and its associated risks, and implementing required protection measures.

“The first of our recently enhanced lessons, “Electrically Safe Working Conditions,” is given during an apprentice’s first year and focuses on electrical hazard awareness and elimination using lockout/tagout procedures. Its objectives are to teach students to identify and describe electrically safe working conditions,” says Joshua. “The other two lessons we’ve recently expanded are given during an apprentices’ final year and focus on mitigating electrical hazards during energized work through risk assessment and the creation of an energized work zone. Designated boundaries are used to restrict access into the energized work zone to only qualified persons, so these lessons are designed to walk students through setting up these work zones, while risk assessment methods are utilized to evaluate the level of risk associated with a given task prior to beginning. The second lesson, “Work Involving Electrical Hazards,” teaches students how to identify electrical hazards, implement hazard controls, utilize the NFPA 70E to determine PPE selection, and utilize the NFPA 70E to determine shock and arc flash boundaries. The third lesson, “Risk Assessment and Control,” teaches students competency in identifying factors that affect the risk associated with a given task or situation, demonstrates different methods of risk control, and demonstrates how to calculate risk and utilizes the hierarchy of risk controls.”

We are grateful to Tom, Joshua, and the rest of our Curriculum Development team for interweaving safety best practices so intensely into WECA’s curriculum to ensure that our Apprentices, Electrician Trainees, and Continuing Education students always approach jobsites with a ‘safety first and foremost’ mindset.