March 2011

Spotlight on Safety
index.html Home    Print    Email

Go to
Electrical Safety: ‘There's An App for That'

The National Electrical Safety Code has been the guidebook for electrical workers looking to safeguard themselves, their co-workers and the general public from on-the-job hazards for more than a century.

Now accessing the code is as simple as whipping out your smartphone.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers launched the first-ever NESC mobile application last fall. The new app allows users to easily refer to the code—a comprehensive set of practical rules and guidelines for electrical safety during the installation, operation, or maintenance of electric supply, communication lines and associated equipment—using their smartphone or iPad. It can even be downloaded using iTunes.

The app features an array of tools to increase usability, including bookmarking and a search feature.

"The IEEE's mobile application adds a new dimension of accessibility and value to the industry by making it easier for workers to do their jobs more safely and effectively," says IBEW Safety and Health Department Director Jim Tomaseski.

It is available for a free 30-day trial at

Building Trades Promotes Health Screening Program

When construction workers signed on for jobs at nuclear defense facilities decades ago, they expected a decent paycheck for their hard work. But they didn't expect to become seriously sick.

Over the past several years, increased knowledge about the health risks of nuclear contamination has prompted many agencies and groups to spearhead health initiatives for the thousands of workers—including many IBEW electricians—who developed cancer or other illnesses from exposure to radiation, silica or beryllium at job sites like Colorado's Rocky Flats Plant or South Carolina's Savannah River Site.

Since 1996, the Building & Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, has operated its free, comprehensive National Medical Screening Program for union members who developed diseases or other conditions while working for the Department of Energy or its contractors in the nuclear weapons industry from the 1950s through the early 1980s.

"We all know how dangerous this work was, and that's why we're grateful that [this program] has screened 23,000 of our members to date," said Building Trades President Mark Ayers. Of those, 21 percent showed evidence of lung disease, he said.

"This is a program that our members can't afford not to take advantage of," Ayers said.

By visiting, members can get information on program eligibility and benefits, including a free medical screening exam to detect work-related illnesses.

The site also includes links to nationwide outreach offices, information about possible compensation and other resources.

"Identification of current—and possibly future—medical issues and advice of how to increase one's quality of life are the keystones of this program," said IBEW Safety and Health Department Director Jim Tomaseski.

The screening program is coordinated by the Center for Construction Research and Training, the health and safety research and training arm of the Building & Construction Trades Department.