Knowing the Code: Mastering the Canadian Electrical Code
Career Path : Apprenticeships
Electricity is behind some of the simplest, everyday tasks, like flipping a light switch, booting up your computer, or charging your phone. The little two or three-pronged outlets scattered about mask the complex wiring systems that connect our homes and offices to power plants in byzantine ways the average person knows very little about.
But electricity can be hazardous if not used or installed properly. Because of the reliance we have on electricity, it is vital that we have certain clearly defined regulations in place for the proper installation and maintenance of electrical systems. In Canada, we have what is known as the Canadian Electrical Code. Since 1927, this comprehensive guide has undergone 22 revisions and is revised every three years, as it is important that such codes keep up with new technologies and the increasing demand for power. Anyone planning a career as a commercial or industrial electrician in Canada must be very familiar with this code. Because of the complex nature of this kind of reading, and the necessity of putting to practice the regulations outlined in this code, one cannot simply pick up or download a copy, read it, and get to work. Every major university and trade school program that trains electricians should have several complete courses dedicated to studying the code, and some of the best programs combine these studies with a fully-integrated electrician apprenticeship program.
Many of the sections of the code explain the proper installation of electrical systems in a general setting, for example of a residential or commercial building. Such topics include grounding, bonding and conductors, to name a few. There are also several sections dedicated to electrical systems in locations that require special circumstances. Here are a few examples of these special locations:
– damp or wet locations: these include underground locations or in direct contact with earth, but can also include businesses dealing with water, such as car washes or water parks
– hazardous locations: places where there is a lot of hazardous or flammable materials, like gases or even flammable dusts, such as factories and processing plants
– locations in the health care industry: for example hospitals and nursing homes, where patients may have pacemakers or other electrical devices that can be interfered with from electrical systems
– temporary installations: outdoor concert and event grounds or construction sites, where electrical systems often have greater exposure to the elements and should also be installed and taken down with greater ease and speed
– emergency locations: these are electrical systems for situations where electricity must remain operational even when general electricity is out, for example with exit signs and emergency lighting during a blackout
Learning the Canadian Electrical Code is not something to be taken lightly precisely because the importance of proper procedure effects far more than the simple operations of light switches and cell phones, but affects the safety and lives of everyone. While almost anyone can plug in their computer, only someone with extensive schooling and training in an industrial electrician apprenticeship program would be trusted to power up our hospitals, airports and fire stations.
Visit Mohawk College for more information on apprenticeship programs.