Graybar, a Fortune 500 company, specializes in supply chain management services, and is a leading North American distributor of high quality components, equipment, and materials. We serve the construction market, the commercial, institutional, and government (CIG) market, and the industrial and utility markets. Graybar products and services support new construction, infrastructure updates, building renovation, facility maintenance, repair and operations, and original equipment manufacturing.
Graybar works with top manufacturers to distribute a wide range of products for all types of projects. In addition to our core electrical, communications and data networking (comm/data) categories, we also offer lighting, MRO, safety, security, and other products needed across a variety of industries.
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Graybar specializes in complete building solutions, and can help customers manage even the largest projects. Services include logistics, inventory, and materials management, process efficiency, complete building systems, and other business services.
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Whether you’re a builder, a property owner or the manager of an electrical firm yourself, you’ll need employees who can safely work with electrical systems. How can you be sure you’re only hiring fully-qualified electrical workers for your project?
It’s an important question. Working with electricity can be dangerous, and unqualified workers don’t always have the training they need to stay safe, sometimes with terrible consequences. In 2017, 136 workers lost their lives through exposure to electricity on the job. In fact, workplace electricity exposure has caused more than 130 fatalities every year since 2011 – over 10 deaths per month, for nearly a decade. Many of these accidents could have been prevented with the right training.
Besides, OSHA regulations won’t allow unqualified workers to perform certain types of electrical work. “Only qualified persons may work on electric circuit parts or equipment that have not been deenergized…,” reads OSHA standard 1910.333(c)(2).
What exactly is a qualified electrical worker, though? Before we get to the answers, it’s important to differentiate between an electrical worker and an electrician proper.
The Difference Between Electricians and Electrical Workers
Technically, not every employee who works with electrical systems and equipment will be an electrician. An electrician is a trades professional who comes up through an apprenticeship program, either with an electrician’s union like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), a trade association like Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) or Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) or an unaffiliated employer.
Electrical workers may be electricians — or they may be electrical technicians, electronics repairers, or any other employee whose day-to-day responsibilities involve electrical systems. This is a catch-all term without a strict definition.
Ultimately, it’s better not to consider an unqualified employee an electrical worker in the first place. Keep expectations clear by using terminology precisely. Of course, to use these terms accurately, we need to understand what professionals mean when they use the term “qualified” in this context.
Qualifications for the Electrician
An electrician learns through an apprenticeship program, which typically lasts four or five years, with at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job-training per year. Supplemental training programs complete the education. Some electricians start at a trade school, though this is far from universal.
Regardless of the source, an electrician’s education will be heavy on safety protocols. Electricians learn to work according to the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 70: National Electrical Code. They also study the companion volume, NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, which details the strategies professionals should use to stay safe while working with high-voltage systems.
On completion of the apprenticeship, an electrician will be eligible to take a licensing exam. In the United States, these exams vary by state; learn more about your state’s licensing program at the National Electrical Contractors Association’s website.
An electrician who has completed an apprenticeship and become licensed is called a “journey worker” or “journeyman.” Further experience and study grants the title “master electrician.” Generally speaking, a licensed journey worker will be qualified to install, maintain or repair any electrical system.
Qualifications for the Electrical Worker
OSHA standards provide a definition of the “qualified person” who works with electrical systems. A qualified person, says OSHA standard 1910.399, is “one who has received training in and has demonstrated skills and knowledge in the construction and operation of electric equipment and installations and the hazards involved.”
Notes to this definition clarify that this qualification is highly situation-specific. An employee may be qualified to work with one piece of electrical equipment, but unqualified in relation to the next.
Qualification under OSHA is largely a function of safety training. Standard 1910.332 lists the training that an employee must receive in order to be considered qualified under the OSHA regulations. Standard 1910.332 requires employees to be trained on the safety best practices described in standards 1910.331, the remainder of 1910.332, 1910.333, 1910.334 and 1910.335.
With all of these codes and regulations to consider, prospective employers may feel overwhelmed when faced with hiring decisions. Fortunately, trade associations, labor unions and licensing authorities can inform employers on a candidate’s qualifications. When in doubt, look for licenses and affiliation within professional groups during the search for qualified electrical workers.
Many occasions call for the use of temporary power — post-disaster recovery, extreme weather events, construction work and more. Regardless of what the purpose of a temporary power system may be, most of these installations will depend on the use of portable generators as the central source of energy.
That’s why every electrician should be ready to deploy portable generators as the core of a temporary power system. But what’s safe for a system wired to the central power grid may not be safe for a high-voltage generator (and vice versa). Temporary power systems present their own hazards and, consequently, their own safety guidelines that can reduce the risk for installation and maintenance teams.
Here are a few things electrical workers should keep in mind when using portable generators to create temporary power installations:
Please keep in mind that this list is far from exhaustive. Consult the NEC and OSHA standards 1910 Subpart S (for general industry) or 1926 Subpart K (for construction) for full details on working safely with temporary power systems.
Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical, communications and data networking products and provider of related supply chain management and logistics services, has been named a Top Workplace in the state of South Carolina by Integrated Media Publishing.
“We are incredibly honored to be recognized as a top workplace in South Carolina,” said David Bender, Atlanta District Vice President. “Graybar is celebrating 150 years in business this year and has been an employee-owned company for 90 years. We pride ourselves on creating an environment where our people can grow and thrive in their workplace and community.”
The Top Workplaces are determined based solely on employee feedback collected through a third-party survey conducted by Energage, LLC, a leading research and consulting firm. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection.
In March, Graybar was named a Top Workplace in Atlanta for the sixth consecutive year. In January, Fortune listed Graybar as one of their “World’s Most Admired Companies.”
To learn more about career opportunities at Graybar, visit www.graybar.com/careers.
Graybar, a Fortune 500 corporation and one of the largest employee-owned companies in North America, is a leader in the distribution of high quality electrical, communications and data networking products, and specializes in related supply chain management and logistics services. Through its network of 289 North American distribution facilities, it stocks and sells products from thousands of manufacturers, helping its customers power, network and secure their facilities with speed, intelligence and efficiency. For more information, visit www.graybar.com or call 1-800-GRAYBAR.
Headquartered in Albany, New York, Advanced Network Services (ANS) is a turnkey engineering, furnishing and installation (EF&I) provider of telecommunication solutions. In today’s fast-paced work environments, flawless connectivity and mobile coverage is an essential component of doing business. “Distributed antenna systems (DAS) allow enterprise customers to build out infrastructure inside their facilities that take carrier signal from wireless providers through a series of conversions and transfers them back to phones, devices and large automation in inside environments,” explains ANS Program Manager Brendan Delaney.
To improve its coverage, a large governmental agency with facilities located nationally contracted with ANS for DAS installation at two initial locations in Wichita, Kansas and Greensboro, NC.
The government agency’s facilities execute complex operations on a large scale. Many are operational on a 24/7 basis. In addition to fast and cost-effective installation, it was important that the installation process not interfere with customer operations. Storing large amounts of equipment, product and parts at the facility was impractical. Shipping as needed or through a third party would lead to delays and add extra expense.
“For efficient, cost-effective deployment of these systems, it was important to ANS to find a distribution partner with local warehouses that we could trust to store, ship and manage materials,” says Brendan.
HOW GRAYBAR HELPED
With 290 locations across the U.S. and a complete selection of data communication products including everything needed for DAS installation, working with Graybar made sense for ANS and for their customer.
Graybar supplied ANS with all of the DAS materials including co-ax, radio frequency systems, antennas, connectors and more.
“Graybar’s service stood out with consistent communications and the ability to have Danielle as the single point of contact on these projects,” says Brendan.
“Once a PO was issued, Inside Sales Representative Danielle Pustolka from our Albany office, got everything rolling. She created a spreadsheet and sent it out once a week with quantities that had shipped. She communicated proactively with Brendan and our local team near the installations. Everyone was in the loop,” explains Graybar Comm/Data Business Manager James Sweet.
“We didn’t deliver $300,000 of material, set it in front of the facility and say, ‘Have at it.’ We released as the project needed,” adds Danielle. “There was no foreman or project manager wandering around a giant facility looking for material.”
In addition to preventing loss or damage to materials, hold and release gave ANS more flexibility to schedule deliveries at a time that worked for the job and the facility.
“In one location, there were concerns about too much noise in a call center area. Another facility was operational 24/7. If there was downtime at either, it would result in a huge monetary impact on the end users,” says Brendan. “Having materials stored locally at Graybar gave us more flexibility to schedule deliveries at a time that didn’t interrupt their business.”
There were also consumables and items that couldn’t be forecast: conduit fittings, j-hooks, fire rated penetrations and more. Once ANS installers were on site, they had a better idea of what was needed. With Graybar close by, ANS could send someone to the counter for pick up rather than over ordering or waiting for delivery.
“Without Graybar’s staging and delivery, our logistics costs would have been higher and our response times reduced. We look forward to continuing to work with Graybar on these kinds of projects,” says Brendan.
ANS’ customer was satisfied with both the process and the results of their DAS installation. Negotiations are underway to do more installations.
For both locations together, three weeks of end-to-end time to market was saved getting the projects scheduled and installed and more than $1,000 was saved in third party logistics and shipping costs.
With 8,700 employees in 289 locations across North America including Canada and Puerto Rico, Graybar is a national company with local career opportunities, including:
• No. 57 on the Forbes America’s Largest Private Companies list (2018)
• Named to FORTUNE World’s Most Admired Companies list for the 17th year (2019)
• No. 426 on the FORTUNE 500 ranking of America’s largest companies (2018)
• No. 55 on the Forbes America’s Largest Private Companies list (2017)
• Named to FORTUNE World’s Most Admired Companies list for the 16th year (2018)
• Named by Forbes as one of “America’s Best Large Employers” (2018)
• No. 13 on the National Center for Employee Ownership “Employee Ownership 100” list (2018)
• No. 3 on the Modern Distribution Management Market Leaders list (2018)
• No. 3 on Electrical Wholesaling’s Top 200 Electrical Distributors list (2018)
• Named one of the Top Workplaces in Atlanta, the California Bay Area, St. Louis, Oregon and Southwest Washington (2018)
• On Broadband Communities’ Fiber to the Home Top 100 list (2018)
• Named one of Selling Power’s “Best Companies to Sell For” (2018)
As a leading North American distributor, Graybar operates with one clear mission: to serve as the vital link in the supply chain, adding value for customers and suppliers with innovative solutions and services. Graybar’s strategy is to sustain the organization as an independent and employee-owned company, while achieving the results that position the company as an industry leader and allows Graybar to work to the advantage of those it serves.