The Joint Commission (TJC) announced that effective January 1, 2021 circuit breakers labeled as spare (on the circuit breaker legend or panel schedule) and in the “on” position will result in a requirement for improvement (RFI). TJC stated that these findings would be scored under Joint Commission Environment of Care (EC) Standard EC.02.05.01 (managing utility system risks), Element of Performance (EP) 9: “The [organization] labels utility system controls to facilitate partial or complete emergency shutdowns.”
Code is currently silent on spare breaker positions. NFPA 70 408.4 (A), Circuit Directory or Circuit Identification, states, “Spare positions that contain unused overcurrent devices or switches shall be described accordingly. The identification shall be included in a circuit directory that is located on the face or inside of the panel door in the case of a panelboard and at each switch or circuit breaker in a switchboard or switchgear. No circuit shall be described in a manner that depends on transient conditions of occupancy.”
ASHE understands that there are many reasons to toggle a spare breaker on or off. Leaving spare breakers on may be common practice so electricians can find a tripped circuit breaker much faster. Leaving them on may even be policy at your organization, so that all circuit breakers are properly “de-energized” prior to electrical work being performed. On the other hand, keeping spare breakers in the “off” position can identify, for worker safety, which breakers are energized as well as indicate that those spares are not actually in use.
ASHE wants to hear from you to learn how you engage your spare breakers and why. Please provide that information by clicking the button below.