Electrical Wiring in the Home/Fluorescent lights

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Question
Hello,

Recently I have had to change a lot of fluorescent tube lights for rooms in a building, and cannot turn the power off to these fixtures. I occasionally notice very small arcing when removing a light and one end comes out of the socket before the other and touches the metal fixture.
Besides touching the live sockets, are there any other dangers in doing this. I keep my hands away from the sockets, as well as the metal end caps of the lights. I also got a light shock recently when I touched a fixture (before removing the lights), and it felt about like brushing your hand against an electric fence.

Thanks

Answer
Robert Wilber
Philadelphia Licensed Electrician
Philadelphia License # 3516 - 16765
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LIFE SAFETY WARNING! [disclaimer]
Electricity is dangerous!
You can be injured or killed!
Improper installations can cause fire, injury and death!
Are you qualified to do this work?
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National Electrical Code definition, NFPA 70 2008 Article 100: Qualified Person. "One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved."
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Electricity is fire in a box! Death on a leash!
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Always check with the local “Authority Having Jurisdiction” for an official interpretation before making installation decisions.
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In Philadelphia, it is unlawful for anyone except an individual licensed by the City of Philadelphia to install electrical equipment and wiring.
Homeowners are not allowed to install wiring.
The owner of any property wherein any such installation is discovered shall be issued a violation by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
The limited exceptions include replacing devices and fixtures at existing outlets.
Contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections for more information.
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You are more likely to be killed by 120 volts than any other voltage [120 volts creates the PERFECT fatal current through the human body's electrical resistance!]
TURN THE POWER OFF WHEN WORKING!
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LIFE SAFETY WARNING! [disclaimer]
This information is provided for the use of parties as they see fit!
I am not responsible for the application of this information by any party, including those lacking sufficient skill or knowledge to perform these steps safely and any hazard created is the SOLE responsibility of the user.
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I would like to know more of the details about your "light shock" from the fixture.
Were you touching the ceiling grid?
Were you using a conductive [not fiberglass] ladder?
Were you sweaty or damp from rain?
Have you [or preferably someone qualified] checked the fixture to determine if it is properly grounded?

It is always unwise to perform a task if not properly trained and equipped. I have served many clients who had at some point required unqualified persons in their employ to service facility lighting equipment. Your experience of unpleasant consequences is not uncommon. It was fortunate that you did not fall off the ladder when you received the shock. It might have been a more severe shock. It could have been a taller ladder. You could have been injured. You might have damaged the fixture.

It is always best to completely de-energize any equipment before working on it. Yes, even changing lamps.

It is unreasonable for your employer to insist on your working on energized equipment [and don't tell me you CANNOT turn off the power - see NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace - http://catalog.nfpa.org/NFPA-70E-Standard-for-Electrical-Safety-in-the-Workplace] because it inconveniences someone to have the lights off.

Your options are:

1] Get your company to engage an individual or a business which employs someone who is properly trained and experienced in the practices and possesses the specialized personal protective equipment required for the safe maintenance and repair of energized equipment;

2] Undertake sufficient training, develop adequate procedures and secure proper safety equipment for these activities yourself;

3] Convince your company to institute new safety standards reflecting the risks of energized repairs and requiring equipment be de-energized for service;

4] Refuse to perform work under personally and institutionally unacceptable hazardous conditions;

5] Continue to pursue experientially evidenced hazardous practices after or without notification to your company, personally accepting the dangers to yourself created by the hazards involved and electing to place your company at risk financially on the basis of your personal authority;

6] File a complaint with OSHA regarding mandatory unsafe work conditions.

Rule # 1: Go home tonight in one piece!

copy and paste:

https://www.osha.gov/dte/grant_materials/fy09/sh-18794-09/electrical_safety_manual.pdf  
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Robert Wilber

Expertise

Licensed Philadelphia electrician serving Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania. I install and repair residential, commercial and industrial wiring and lighting. Troubleshooting and repair of problems that stump other people is my favorite. I am willing to help people figure out why things don`t work. I understand motor controls, transformers and machine wiring. I do not teach basics to novices or do free design work.

Experience

Experience in the area I have 44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair, 480 volts and below. This is not to be confused with one week repeated two thousand times.

Education/Credentials
44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair

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