Honor the Code

Lately I’ve been battling with various groups on campus as to when my staff is allowed to work “in the ceiling”.

Ceiling Work

If you are like me, and installing digital systems across your campus, you now may have several new appliances “above grid” that may need attention once in a while, and projectors themselves need constant attention.

When a lamp blows, or when there is “an issue” (and our troubleshooting leads us to believe it’s something at the projector), the common request is “please fix it quickly”.   Lately, I’ve been loathe to do that, mostly because of my concern with messing with the tiles, or “ceiling features” (like projectors) while the room is occupied.   Something falls out of the ceiling, even just dirt, and it lands on a student…

The digital relays in the ceiling add a new dimension to this set up as well.

So I reached out to OSHA for a statement on room work while the room is occupied:

Work “overhead” in occupied rooms require all occupants to where safety glasses and hard hats.

[now, this begs the question on what technically constitutes ‘work’]

Anything that involves the ceiling grid.   They were more vague on whether or not projectors themselves, transversing the grid, are truly “ceiling features” and thereby in the same definition requiring hats and goggles… but the ladder issue was very clear:

All moveable room features in a radius of the height of the ladder and its occupant should be cleared.

6 foot ladder, with a person working on a 9 foot ceiling means I’m drawing an 18’ circle in the room, with the ladder in the middle, and everyone (desks too) should be clear.

This really reinforces the notion that ceiling work SHOULD NOT BE PERFORMED while class is in session.

One last note:

Many of you might have gotten hit by a fire code violation going around lately, related to your projectors:

NYS Fire code enforcement has been writing up violations of NEC code 400.8 “Flexible cords and cables shall not run through a wall or ceiling”   [‘flexible cords or cables’, in this context under this heading, refers to cables carrying power only.

Firecode thinks our AC cords fall under UL62, the designation of the cords for the 400.8 code.   This is stuff like flex cord for duplexes, or fixture wire used with lighting.   Many code officials are mistakenly applying this to our AC cord

AC cord falls under UL 8.17.   Cord sets and power supply cords.   Defined as a single use power supply used with one piece of equipment.   This cable CAN transverse grid without issue.  This was confirmed by a firecode instructor that several of my campus electricians visited during their usual code classes.

…but good luck trying to fight the fire code guys on that.

Either way, DO NOT get stuck doing 125 change orders like we did…only to find out they weren’t technically necessary.   Be sure to state this clearly if you receive a campus-wide write up on it.

In partnership,

Drew Tucci

Binghamton University