Electricity is at the heart of almost everything we do these days, and it’s tough, if not impossible, to run your business without it. Electrical systems, if not maintained properly, can also carry huge risks of property damage or injury to yourself or your employees. You might find yourself facing expensive replacements to your equipment or exposing your workers, who are dealing with unsafe electrical conditions day in and day out, at risk.
To make sure your building and the people inside it are safe at all times, you should consider bringing in an electrical engineer to run a coordination study. But what exactly is a coordination study, and do you really need one? We’re here to explain all the elements of a coordination study and help you determine if you need to have one done on your building.
What Happens in a Coordination Study?
During a coordination study, an electrical engineer will analyze your circuit breakers and ensure that your building and employees will be safe in case of a short circuit, arc flash, equipment failure, or any other electrical damage. Essentially, coordination studies serve to evaluate your risk of faults in the electrical system and make sure your circuit breaker is connected and working as designed.
Your electrical engineer will typically begin with a short circuit study, making sure that your system and circuit breakers will be capable of handling a short circuit. The electrical engineer also collects data from your system and cross-checks this information with what is provided by the manufacturer, ensuring all your equipment is working properly.
The study involves looking at all the manufacturer’s characteristic of fuses and breakers, and comparing them to each other. This way, the electrical engineer can assess all the components and determine if there is any apparent incoordination. If there are, your professional can document and determine the best course of action moving forward.
Once all data has been collected and analyzed, your electrical engineer will present you with their results. They will let you know whether your system is working properly and provide recommendations for adjustments, improvements or repairs. Having the opinion of a professional is vital, especially when it comes to dealing with electricity, which is why bringing in an experienced electrical engineer is key.
Benefits and Goal of Coordination Studies
The primary goal of a coordination study, as we’ve mentioned, is to ensure that you and your employees are always safe. Electrical failures like short circuits can be incredibly dangerous and could cause severe injury or even death. Coordination studies not only help you make sure your workers are safe, but they can also save you from the high costs of medical bills or lawsuits related to workplace injury.
On a similar note, having a coordination study can be a beneficial preventative measure for your equipment. When an electrical engineer looks at your equipment, they can recommend repairs needed before small issues become major problems. Making these repairs as soon as they’re identified can save you money in the long run.
Finally, keeping up with regular coordination studies can give you the peace of mind that you are complying with OSHA regulations and guidelines. If OSHA discovers that you haven’t been maintaining and/or updating your equipment, or you have been knowingly neglecting repairs, you could receive a hefty fine. Consistent coordination studies ensure that you’re always on the right side of OSHA guidelines.
Does My Building Need a Coordination Study?
You might be wondering if a coordination study is even necessary in the first place. In general, every facility should have a coordination study performed when its electrical system is first designed. If you are not the owner of your building, get in touch with them to see when the electrical system was put in place. If they’re not sure of the building date or the status of the electrical system, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and book a coordination study just to make sure you’re meeting OSHA guidelines.
Additionally, you will need to plan for a coordination study if your system receives any major updates or modifications. Coordination studies during these periods will ensure that your system continues to work as designed. If anything was installed incorrectly during these updates, your electrical engineer can guide you on corrective steps.
When to Contact a Coordination Study Specialist
Is it time for you to contact a coordination study specialist? There are a few questions you can ask to determine whether that is the case.
First, has there been an electrical equipment failure in your facility recently? If so, you’ll want to schedule a coordination study to make sure all repairs were done properly and that you’re not at risk of another incident. Is there any critical inventory or equipment that could be damaged in the event of a long-term outage? If so, it might be time to get a coordination study.
As we mentioned, all new buildings should have an initial coordination study when the electrical system is designed and installed. In other cases where you are installing new equipment, like static transfer switches or emergency generators, a coordination study should also be performed.
If it’s time for you to bring in an electrical engineer for a coordination study, consider working with Mark Thomas & Associates Electrical Engineers (MTAEE). We are proud to serve a wide range of clients throughout the West Coast and Southern California, including San Diego and Los Angeles. In addition to coordination studies, our experts can also perform arc flash hazard analyses, electrical testing, short circuit analyses, and more. Contact us today for more information.