What Does Good ‘Workmanship’ Mean? Electrical installation standards address performance and quality issues

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Published On
Oct 15, 2022

NECA’s National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS) are the only performance and workmanship industry standards for electrical construction approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). They are used by more construction owners, engineers, architects, contractors and others because they clearly illustrate performance and quality elements that apply in electrical construction.

The inspiration for NEIS

The National Electrical Code contains the minimum requirements for electrically safe installations. However, electrical contractors, general contractors, engineers and building owners see “good workmanship” referenced throughout their plans and specs. The idea behind the NEIS started with a simple question: what exactly was “good workmanship ?”

In the early 1990s, NECA decided to develop the NEIS to address the performance and quality issues that were, at best, subjective as provided in the NEC . The goal was to clearly describe those steps, and the NEIS are the result of this ongoing effort.

Value of the NEIS

Beyond the obvious value of helping ensure a correct and high-quality electrical installation, electrical contractors also benefit from incorporating the NEIS into their design and construction process.

  • Worker training: The NEIS make great training guides, with clear illustrations for how electrical installations should appear and the correct steps to follow.
  • Specifications: Working with a general contractor, owner or engineer who isn’t certain about how an electrical installation should be done? Simply pass along the applicable NEIS for the project, and everyone can rest easier.
  • Standing out from the crowd: Electrical contractors using NEIS in their work make a demonstrable commitment to the highest quality and safest installation procedures and outcomes.

High standards for the industry

The NEIS provide essential resources for ECs’ daily operations, allowing them to demonstrate a high level of installation quality and a commitment to safety and performance excellence, which will help attract and retain customers. The NEIS establish a true quality benchmark in electrical construction that meets customers’ increased demands, while providing an effective vehicle to help contractors effectively demonstrate their commitment to quality.

Inspectors and AHJs

Although the  NEIS  are voluntary standards, they provide details that clarify what constitutes good mechanical execution of work in various electrical installation tasks.

Assessing electrical workmanship can be subjective for  Code  enforcement officials, especially those with limited experience in the electrical field. The  NEIS  helps describe what the installation should look like and how it should perform to meet the Code's minimum requirement for “good workmanship.” They have been adopted for use in some jurisdictions. If the NEIS are referenced in project plans and specifications, they usually become requirements and are enforceable by inspectors.

Architects and engineers

The NEIS are developed by subject matter experts, manufacturers, contractors, engineers and end-users. They include the industry-recognized best practices for installing and maintaining electrical systems and equipment for safety, efficiency and proper operation.

For engineers, the NEIS removes the time-consuming research and guesswork. Installation and maintenance procedures are clearly described.

The NEIS emphasize the critical elements of each system or piece of equipment and thoroughly address all facets of product installation where applicable, including field measurements, placing the order, receiving shipments, inspecting, handling and material storage, rough-in, installation, start-up, testing, commissioning, troubleshooting and maintenance. Following the NEIS assures owners, customers and end-users that their electrical systems are Code -compliant and incorporate the industry-recognized best practices for safety, operation, maintenance, energy management and power quality.

Trending ahead

The NEIS project is progressive and responsive to industry needs and trends. Currently, there are NEIS in development related to prefabrication, recommended practices for maintaining electrical equipment and practices installations in hazardous (classified) locations and lightning protection system design, maintenance and installation. Find out more at www.neca-neis.org.

About the Author

Michael Johnston

Executive Director of Standards and Safety, NECA

Michael Johnston is NECA’s executive director of standards and safety. He is a member of the NEC Correlating Committee, NFPA Standards Council, IBEW, UL Electrical Council and NFPA’s Electrical Section. Reach him at mj@necanet.org.

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