This piece was originally published in the July/August 2020 issue of electroindustry.
by Alan Manche, Vice President, External Affairs, Schneider Electric
Mr. Manche is an active leader and contributor to the electrical industry, including participating in NEMA, ANSI, and NFPA activities.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have incorporated extra precautions into our daily routines to stay safe. Now, as state and local governments begin lifting social distancing regulations and workplaces reopen, virus prevention methods are shifting from isolation to disinfection.
One common question we hear from people working on and around electrical equipment, whether in critical facilities or on the plant floor, is: How do I properly disinfect my electrical equipment?
To provide guidance, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) published NEMA GD 4-2020 COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidance for Electrical Equipment. This white paper offers directions on how to clean and disinfect while preserving the functionality and integrity of most electrical equipment types.
Here are the main takeaways from the report:
The first consideration when cleaning and disinfecting electrical equipment is worker safety. As always, it’s important to follow safety-related codes, Standards, and legislation, along with any documented safety procedures created specifically for your facility.
Electrical Safety Foundation International (www.ESFI.org), a nonprofit that promotes electrical safety in homes and workplaces, is a good source for information on common electrical hazards and general safety.
Next, Protect Equipment and Personnel
At the time of this report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) List-N disinfectant on surfaces to reduce virus contamination. However, these solutions and solvents may actually harm electrical products and components.
NEMA GD 4-2020 specifically cautions against the use of fogging and spraying disinfectant solutions on and around electrical equipment because this can corrode conductive materials and degrade plastics, causing damage to equipment, outages, and even physical injuries.
Ensure your equipment and personnel remain safe by following the manufacturer’s cleaning and disinfection instructions. Keep in mind: the approved method for cleaning does not always disinfect the electrical equipment. For example, the manufacturer may recommend cleaning with a clean, dry cloth.
Follow CDC Recommendations for Personal Safety
Personnel working with and around electrical equipment should follow CDC recommendations to reduce the risk of transmission. Precautions include thorough hand-washing and the use of face coverings and other personal protective equipment.
These protective measures are especially important when the approved cleaning method does not disinfect.
When in Doubt, Reach Out
If you have a specific question about cleaning and disinfecting your electrical equipment, or you have equipment in a facility with an elevated risk of virus transmission, it’s best to contact the manufacturer for guidance.
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, NEMA and its Members will continue to review all information related to best practices for cleaning and disinfecting, and will share updates to NEMA GD 4-2020 as they become available.
NEMA GD 4-2020 is available as an electronic download at no cost on the NEMA website.
Other NEMA COVID-19 resources are available at www.nema.org/about/covid-19-response. ei
- Know and follow safety procedures
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfecting
- Avoid List-N chemicals unless allowed by manufacturer
- Follow CDC guidelines, including on hand-washing and use of personal protective equipment
- Consult the manufacturer with specific questions