What is the NESC?

It’s common for safety codes and standards to be confused or misunderstood. The acronyms can look similar, and you might wonder how they differ or relate. In today’s post, we explain the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) – not to be confused with the National Electric Code (NEC), which we covered in a previous post. Check out our additional posts that share how the NEC and NESC relate to NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.

What is the National Electric Safety Code (NESC)?

The NESC is published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and revised every five years. NESC defines safe practices for installing, operating, and maintaining transmission and distribution equipment. Typically, it pertains to high voltage power, over a thousand volts, and starts at the generation of the power and stops at the meter of a home or commercial facility. An easy way to remember it is it’s outdoor wiring, or at the premise’s edge (versus the NEC, which is inside wiring). Let’s hear from VP of Technical, Scott Margolin:


As Scott points out, the line between on-premises and off-premises wiring and equipment can be misunderstood and there’s an opportunity for mistakes in terms of safety and the standard that should be applied. Using the correct code is important for the safe operation of electrical workers and the public.

NFPA and IEEE understand the opportunity for confusion between the NEC and NESC and have worked to better define the scope and clear up the grey area. If you haven’t looked at these standards recently, please make sure you have the most recent copy on-hand.

Now you may be wondering, how do the NEC and NESC relate to NFPA 70E? Find out in our next post.


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