The Future of Electrical Safety and Maintenance Standards

Ron Widup, Shermco IndustriesColumns, NFPA 70E and NETA, Summer 2023 Columns

What does the future hold for our industry — especially when it comes to those all-important standards that ensure reliability, protect property, and help us to avoid injury or death?

As we revise and update codes and standards from NETA, NFPA, IEEE, ASTM, NEMA, CSA, and OSHA, I think we should all read this very carefully, especially the summary.


The future of electrical safety and maintenance standards is likely to involve increased emphasis on the use of technology, automation, and data-driven approaches. As technology advances, there will likely be an increased focus on the use of smart devices and sensors to monitor electrical systems and identify potential safety hazards.

Additionally, there may be a greater focus on preventative maintenance as organizations recognize the importance of maintaining electrical systems to ensure their long-term reliability and safety. This may involve the use of advanced diagnostic tools and techniques to identify potential issues before they lead to equipment failures or safety hazards.

Another trend that is likely to shape the future of electrical safety and maintenance standards is increased collaboration and information sharing among stakeholders. This could involve greater involvement from regulatory bodies, industry associations, and other organizations to establish common standards and best practices for electrical safety and maintenance.

Overall, the future of electrical safety and maintenance standards is likely to be characterized by a greater reliance on technology and data-driven approaches, as well as increased collaboration and information sharing among stakeholders.


Electrical standards can increase reliability in several ways, including:

  1. Ensuring consistent performance. Electrical standards provide guidelines for the design, installation, and maintenance of electrical systems. By following these standards, electrical systems can be built and operated in a consistent manner, which can help to ensure that they perform reliably.
  2. Improving safety. Electrical standards often include requirements for safety features and procedures, such as grounding, protective devices, and lockout/tagout procedures. By implementing these safety measures, the risk of accidents and equipment failures can be reduced, which can help to increase the reliability of the electrical system.
  3. Encouraging proper maintenance. Electrical standards often include guidelines for the maintenance and testing of electrical equipment. By following these guidelines, potential issues can be identified and addressed before they lead to equipment failures, which can improve the overall reliability of the system.
  4. Promoting interoperability. Electrical standards can help to ensure that different electrical components and systems are designed to work together effectively. This can help to prevent compatibility issues that could lead to system failures or malfunctions.

Overall, electrical standards can help to ensure that electrical systems are designed, installed, and maintained in a consistent, safe, and effective manner, which can help to increase the reliability of the system.


Technology and automation have the potential to save lives in a number of ways, particularly in fields where human error can lead to dangerous situations. Here are a few examples:

  • Autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars and trucks have the potential to greatly reduce accidents caused by human error, such as distracted driving or impaired driving.
  • Robotics. Robots can be used in hazardous or dangerous environments, such as mines, factories, or disaster zones, to perform tasks that would be dangerous or difficult for humans to perform.
  • Wearable technology. Wearable devices can monitor vital signs or detect changes in a person’s health, allowing for early detection and treatment of potentially life-threatening conditions.
  • Smart home technology. Smart home devices can be used to monitor for dangerous situations such as fires, carbon monoxide leaks, or water leaks, and alert homeowners or emergency services.
  • Medical technology. Advanced medical technology, such as artificial organs and precision medicine, can improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of complications during procedures.

Overall, technology and automation can save lives by reducing the likelihood of human error, increasing efficiency, and enabling early detection and treatment of health problems or dangerous situations.


The previous information in this article was 667 words, and while on the surface it sounds reasonable and maybe even on point — know this: All of the information was created in ChatGPT in just a few seconds. Click. Copy. Paste. 

No human intervention, no subject matter expertise, no verified reference to an actual standard or real-life source.

It was a few words typed into a website, with results obtained in seconds. No research, no knowledge, no validation or verification.

Suzanne Massie, an American scholar of Russian history who advised Ronald Reagan on the Soviet Union during the final years of the Cold War as they prepared for talks with Mikhail Gorbachev, taught him this Russian Proverb: “Doveryai, no Proveryai” which translates to “Trust, but Verify.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we might want to think very carefully about the future of the electrical life-safety and maintenance rules, guidance, codes, and standards we are creating now and in the future….because things aren’t always as they seem.

Developing these very important documents for our industry and the betterment of the electrical worker in the field, especially in this day and age of unverified and unnamed sources that are generated at the click of a mouse, we should always remember:


It is incumbent upon us all to be forever diligent in our sources of information and the facts that drive them as we continue our quest to ensure reliability and protect people. 

Use technology to our advantage, but don’t get lazy. Trust, but Verify.

And oh, yeah. Before working on it — turn it off!

Article Sources: 

225 words: Ron Widup

48 words:

667 words: ChatGPT 

Ron Widup is the Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, and Senior Advisor, Technical Services for Shermco Industries and has been with Shermco since 1983. He is a member of the NETA Board of Directors and Standards Review Council; a Principal member of the Technical Committee on Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E); Principal member of the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) Code Panel 11; Principal member and Chairman of the Technical Committee on Standard for Competency of Third-Party Evaluation Bodies (NFPA 790); Principal member and Chairman of the Technical Committee on Recommended Practice and Procedures for Unlabeled Electrical Equipment Evaluation (NFPA 791); a member of the Technical Committee Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance (NFPA 70B); and Vice Chair for IEEE Std. 3007.3, Recommended Practice for Electrical Safety in Industrial and Commercial Power Systems. He is a member of the Texas State Technical College System (TSTC) Board of Regents, a NETA Certified Level 4 Senior Test Technician, State of Texas Journeyman Electrician, a member of the IEEE Standards Association, an Inspector Member of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, and an NFPA Certified Electrical Safety Compliance Professional (CESCP).